SustainabilityNew study finds high raw material consumption in Germany

At the occasion of today’s "National Resource Symposium" in Berlin, the German Federal Environmental Agency (UBA) presented its resource report entitled “The usage of natural resources in Germany 2016”. This report includes key economic and environmental figures on the resource consumption in Germany and the related environmental impact in terms of unused material, land and water use. For this, the national as well as international perspective was examined. These are the report’s central results:

  • In Germany, the annual average consumption of resources, such as metal, concrete or timber, amounts to 16,2 tons per person, that is 44 kilograms per day. Compared to the international and European level, Germany exhibits a high level of resource consumption.
  • About half of the overall economic demand for raw materials originates from the consumption needs of private households. The areas of housing and food contribute most significantly to the final resource demand.
  • Moreover, in order to satisfy consumption needs, the majority of required resources has to be imported from abroad, which ascribes a global dimension to private consumption in Germany.

The main recommendation of the UBA for saving and using resources more efficiently entails a reform of the value-added tax (VAT). For instance, a reduced VAT of seven per cent could be introduced for resource-efficient products, such that these products are more attractive for consumers. Maria Krautzberger, president of UBA, noted: "Our economic practices and consumption constitute a considerable environmental burden for other countries. 70 per cent of resources that are used in Germany have to be imported from abroad, four fifths of which are not renewable. We have to handle resources in a more careful manner. (…) Products that save resources should be comparatively cheaper for consumers. It is conceivable that for a resource-efficient television a VAT of merely seven per cent has to be paid. This would make such products more attractive."

Source: German Federal Environmental Agency

More information and the report