Resource efficiency potential of selected technologies, products and strategies

Sci Total Environ. 2014 Mar 1;473-474:32-5. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2013.11.024. Epub 2013 Dec 20.


Despite rising prices for natural resources during the past 30 years, global consumption of natural resources is still growing. This leads to ecological, economical and social problems. So far, however, limited effort has been made to decrease the natural resource use of goods and services. While resource efficiency is already on the political agenda (EU and national resource strategies), there are still substantial knowledge gaps on the effectiveness of resource efficiency improvement strategies in different fields. In this context and within the project "Material Efficiency and Resource Conservation", the natural resource use of 22 technologies, products and strategies was calculated and their resource efficiency potential analysed. In a preliminary literature- and expert-based identification process, over 250 technologies, strategies, and products, which are regarded as resource efficient, were identified. Out of these, 22 subjects with high resource efficiency potential were selected. They cover a wide range of relevant technologies, products and strategies, such as energy supply and storage, Green IT, transportation, foodstuffs, agricultural engineering, design strategies, lightweight construction, as well as the concept "Using Instead of Owning". To assess the life-cycle-wide resource use of the selected subjects, the material footprint has been applied as a reliable indicator. In addition, sustainability criteria on a qualitative basis were considered. The results presented in this paper show significant resource efficiency potential for many technologies, products and strategies.

Keywords: MIPS; Material footprint; Potential analysis; Resource consumption; Resource efficiency.

MeSH terms

  • Agriculture
  • Conservation of Natural Resources / methods*
  • Efficiency
  • Technology*
  • Water Resources / statistics & numerical data