The Eco-Innovation Challenge

The Eco-Innovation Challenge



presented, which have proposed different targets for material consumption and material

productivity. Most widely known are the targets of Factor 4, defined as a doubling of income

while reducing material consumption by 50% (von Weizsäcker et al. 1997); Factor 5, i.e. an

80% increase in resource productivity (von Weizsäcker et al. 2009); and Factor 10, a ten-fold

reduction of material consumption in industrialised countries up to the year 2050 (Schmidt-

Bleek 1993; Schmidt-Bleek et al. 1993). Additionally, targets for the year 2050 of 6 tonnes

of resource use per capita (Schmidt-Bleek 2008b; Ekins et al. 2009) or a total use (including

unused material resources) of 10 tonnes of abiotic resources (Bringezu 2011) have been


These visions of a dematerialised economy are also increasingly taken up in business

thinking. For example, a recently published report by the World Business Council for

Sustainable Development states that a “four to tenfold improvement in the eco-efficiency

of resources and materials from 2000” is required to achieve a sustainable world in 2050

(WBCSD 2010).

It is important to emphasise that targets on material consumption should be based on

comprehensive indicators of material use, which include indirect material flows of international

trade (such as RMC or TMC; see Box 2.1). Only those comprehensive indicators avoid the

risk that a country or world region achieves its targets by a dislocation of domestic material

and energy intensive parts of the economy abroad. This would only result in a relocation of

environmental burden, but not in an absolute reduction on the global level. However, as data

sets for those comprehensive indicators are not yet available on the European level, we refer

to DMC data in order to show the order of magnitude of the required change. In later stages,

the EIO project aims at employing more comprehensive indicators to target setting.

Based on the basket of suggested targets, we defined a set of three scenarios and related

targets for the European economy:

● Business-as-usual scenario, the trends of the past four decades continue, i.e.

assuming a 20% increase of DMC in the next 40 years (based on the 20% increase of

material consumption in the EU-15 countries observed between 1970 and 2008) (see

EEA 2010a). Note that this is a very simple scenario, which is not taking into account

structural changes of the economy and population;

● Weak reduction scenario, an absolute reduction of material consumption by 50% (or

a Factor 2) until 2050;

● Strong reduction scenario, significantly reducing material consumption by 80% (or

a Factor 5) until 2050.

The two described reduction scenarios could also be extended to a long-term goal in 2100,

resulting in a Factor 4 reduction in the weak reduction scenario and a Factor 10 reduction in

the strong reduction scenario.

Table 2.1 and Figure 2.5 provide an overview of key variables and targets in the three

scenarios. All numbers are for the EU-27.

Annual Report 2010

Targets on material


should be based

on comprehensive

indicators of material


The EIO targets

are based on a

development pathway,

aiming for a Factor 2

to Factor 5

reduction in material

consumption by 2050.


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