Summary of findings, conclusion and outlook
An important finding is that almost all countries are pursuing approaches to promote the efficient use of raw materials. The countries, however, differ in the extent to which they promote raw material efficiency, in the priorities they set and in the application of tools and approaches. By sorting them along the value chain and by considering raw material used in the respective countries, some general observations can be discerned.
The majority of the surveyed countries have adopted either an overarching framework or sub-strategies in the areas of sustainable development and green growth with resource efficiency as an integral part. In other countries, resource efficiency is promoted through so-called partial strategies. Few countries formulated a national resource efficiency strategy'.
In almost all countries, approaches concerning waste prevention and recycling are most widespread. Against the backdrop of the environmental pressure resulting from an increasing amount of waste in almost all countries, this stands to reason. Even in countries such as Germany where resource efficiency is a separate policy field, the topic has evolved from the waste sector. Recycling is mainly promoted through quotas and technology funding, in exceptional cases, also by export restrictions. Among the countries under study, China has created one of the most advanced and comprehensive circular economy programs.
Approaches to promote efficient production are found in almost all countries studied. Differences exist between the sectors addressed (for example, basic materials, processing sectors, high technology, services) and the level being aspired (e.g. to reach international production standards, to become a world market leader). Irrespective of the differences in scope, the applied instruments such as consulting tools, incentive schemes (e.g. awards for best practice companies) and the creation of regional/sectoral company networks are very similar.
The approaches addressing consumption are also similar in the countries under study. All approaches focus on informing citizens using educational programs and product labelling or certifications. Specific targets are set exclusively for public procurement. None of the countries has established restrictions or strong governance for private consumption. The approach by the Republic of Korea is the most extensive approach in this context with the nationwide and cross-sectoral Green Credit Card System.
The research project MoniRess has successfully implemented a monitoring system of international resource efficiency policies. The results show impressively how complex the topic of resource efficiency and sustainable resource use policies is. Further, the project indicates that the success of policy approaches towards the sustainable use of natural resources can differ strongly among countries. Based on the information gathered in this project, the focus of future research should be channelled towards the analysis of impacts that determine the success of resource efficiency measures in the countries as well as the evaluation of the outcome of respective resource policies. Identifying factors that contribute most effectively to the success of resource efficiency policies will be helpful in order to further develop and conceptualise resource efficiency policies. UBA continues the research project with the start of ‘MoniRess II' in autumn 2019.
List of abbreviations
BAT best available technologies
BMU German Federal Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation, and Nuclear Safety
ECOS United States Environmental Council of the States
FYP Five-Year Plan
G20 Group of 20
G7 Group of 7
GRIHA Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment
GTAI Germany Trade and Invest
IREP Indian Resource Efficiency Program
IRP International Resource Panel
MoniRess Monitoring international resource policies
NCPC National Cleaner Production Center
NGO non-governmental organisation
NITI Aayog Indian National Planning Commission
OECD Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
ProgRess German Resource Efficiency Program
PROPER Indonesia’s Program for Pollution Control, Evaluation, and Rating
RECPnet Global Network for Resource Efficiency and Clean Production SCP Sustainable Consumption and Production
UBA German Federal Environmental Agency
UN United Nations
UNIDO United Nations Industrial Development Organization
USEPA United States Environmental Protection Agency