Table of Contents
Non-renewable resources include raw materials such as iron ores/metals and minerals as well as environmental media (air, water, soil) and land area ( European Thematic strategy on the sustainable use of natural resources). They are used as input factors for economic activities or as emission sinks. The exploitation, processing, transport, use and disposal of resources generate environmental impacts on the global (climate change), regional and local (contamination of soils or ground water) level. Increasing resource efficiency is a strategy for improving the resilience of the environment, society and economy. Only few resources are scarce in physical terms (e.g. phosphorous) and suppy shortages most often stem from short-term market distortions and politically motivated export restrictions.
Different approaches to resource policy follow different strategies and aims such as:
- securing an approriate supply of raw material as input for the ecomomy.
- an absolute limitation of resource use per capita and dematerialisation of the economy;
- a relative decoupling of resource use and economic activity (e.g. the Roadmap to a resource efficient Europe);
- a decoupling of resource use and environmental impacts (e.g. the Enquete-Commission of the German Bundestag on 'growth, prosperity and quality of life').
Measures comprise the use of secondary material, the substition of material, or measures to stimulate innovation towards more resoure-efficient products.
Europe is import dependent on many non-renewable resources. The exploitation of resources and disposal of end-of life products - including environmental impacts - often takes place outside Europe.
This text is for information only and is not designed to interpret or replace any reference documents.
Does the policy reduce or increase use of non-renewable resources?
Sub-questions that should be considered comprise:
- Does the policy reduce or increase availability of non-renewable resources for the economy?
- Does the policy lead to a shift in the use of resources between individual resources?
- Does the policy reduce or increase the environmental impacts from mining?
- Does the policy lead to a shift in the geographical origin of resources?
- Does the policy change environmental impacts (from the use and disposal) of products?
- The 2020 Flagship Initiative on Resource Efficiency aims to deliver smart, sustainable and inclusive growth by increasing resource efficiency;
- The European Roadmap to a resource efficient Europe aims at combining economic growth and a more efficient use of resources (relative decoupling) by promoting innovations for resource efficiency;
- Activties of the European Resource Efficiency Platform (EREP). The EREP aims at improving the overall resource productivty of the EU ecomony and at an overall decoupling of resource use and its environmental impacts from economic growth.
- The European Commission's site on the Thematic strategy on the sustainable use of natural resources aims at reducing the environmental impacts associated with resource use and to do so in a growing economy;
- The 2011 Biodiversity Strategy: Our life insurance, our natural capital: an EU biodiversity strategy to 2020.
- Groundwater is one of the components of the Water Framework Directive.
Further sources of data
Further sources of information
- DG Environment: Site on the 'Thematic strategy on the sustainable use of natural resources'
- DG Environment: Site on Water
- DG Enterprise and Industry: Site on Non-energy raw materials.
- EEA pages on water: http://www.eea.europa.eu/themes/water
- EEA pages on natural resources: http://www.eea.europa.eu/themes/natural
- Draft IRP Glossary
- Report: Metal Recycling: Opportunities, Limits, Infrastructure
- Report:Environmental Risks and Challenges of Anthropogenic Metals Flows and Cycles (2013)
- Report: City-Level Decoupling: urban resource flows and the governance of infrastructure transitions
- Report: Responsible Resource Management for a Sustainable World: Findings from the International Resource Panel
- Report: Recycling rates of metals
- Report: Decoupling natural resource use and environmental impacts from economic growth (2011)
- Report: Priority products and materials: assessing the environmental impacts of consumption and production (2010)
- Report: Metal stocks in society: scientific synthesis (2010)
Giljum, Stefan et al. 2013: State-of-Play of National Consumption based Indicators: A review and evaluation of available methods and data to calculate footprint-type (consumption-based) indicators for materials, water, land and carbon Indicators
- Resource productivity
- Components of domestic material consumption
- Domestic material consumption, by material
- Waste generation and treatment
- Waste streams
- Surface- and groundwater abstraction as a share of available resources
- Population connected to urban wastewater treatment systems with at least secondary treatment
Eurostat water long-term indicators
- Total fresh water abstraction
- Total fresh water abstraction per capita
Other Official Indicators
EEA Water Indicators
- Nitrate in groundwater
- Pesticides in groundwater
- Emissions to water of hazardous substances from industry
- Emissions to water of hazardous substances from urban sources
- Urban wastewater treatment
- Emissions of nitrogen and phosphorus from urban wastewater treatment plants
- Sectoral use of water in regions of Europe
- Water use in urban areas - Household water use
- Water use efficiency (in cities): leakage
- Water exploitation index
- Groundwater overexploitation and saltwater intrusion
- Mean water allocation for irrigation in Europe - Water use for irrigation
- Mean water allocation for irrigation in Europe - Irrigated land in Europe
- Water prices - Agricultural, industrial and household water prices
- Water prices - Domestic water use price: average increases in selected European countries