Resource efficiency means using the Earth's limited resources in a sustainable manner while minimising impacts on the environment. It allows us to create more with less and to deliver greater value with less input. "The EU should double its resource productivity by 2030 in order to boost competitiveness and maintain a high quality of life for citizen", says the European Resource Efficiency Platform.
The Commission published in January 2011 its Communication ‘Flagship initiative under the Europe 2020 Strategy – A resource efficient Europe’, to which a number of other initiatives are linked ie Low Carbon Economy Roadmap, Energy Efficiency Plan 2011, Biodiversity Policy and Strategy, Raw Materials etc. Released on September 20, 2011, the Resource Efficiency Roadmap, is one of the cornerstones of the above-mentioned ‘flagship’. It sets out the EU’s vision towards a more resource -efficient economy by 2050 as well as the objectives and a range of policies to improve resource efficiency for 2020, defining at the same time the plans for introduction of these policies at EU and member state level.
Efficient use of natural resources is a key element of the chemical industry’s contribution to sustainable development. Resource efficiency initiatives should consider the full life cycle of products and all three pillars of sustainability:
The chemical industry is striving to decouple resource use from production growth. Chemicals serve as input into essentially all sectors, enabling the chemical industry to provide products, materials and technicalsolutions that improve resource efficiency throughout the value chain and across the economy. Going beyond further incremental improvements will require breakthroughs in production technologies and changes in consumption behaviour. As an example, a research and innovation agenda on resource efficiency has been put forward through the European Technology Platform for Sustainable Chemistry (SusChem) and in collaboration with several European process industry sectors. The chemical industry favours a resource strategy which relies on the market for creating the necessary innovations and for steering scarce resources towards their most efficient use.