According to a new report by the European Environment Agency (EEA) , 20-30% of the resources consumed within the EU are produced beyond its borders. International trade, the report finds, allows EU consumption and production to impact ecosystems and human health across the globe.
The EEA highlights that Europeans use an annual average of 15 tons of material resources per capita and that in 2011, 3.2 tons of raw materials were imported per person. An update of the assessment in the EEA’s 2010 State and Outlook Report, the report is designed to draw attention to the issue of resource efficiency ahead of the Rio +20 conference, which has green economy as one of its main themes.
Examining trends, impacts and outlooks for use of material resources and waste, as well as policies and responses to address the issue, the report recommends improving policy coherence related to both resource use and waste, and the environmental and economic fields, and provides an overview of European policy responses to inefficient resource use and waste.
The study notes that there is “a striking correlation” between material use and consumption of energy, and calls for increased energy efficiency and the promotion of renewable energy, including by generating energy from waste. Highlighting co-benefits, the report finds that implementation of some of the EU Landfill Directive’s targets could reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 62 million tons carbon dioxide-equivalent by 2020, from 2008 levels.