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Resource efficiency in the EU

More recycling and greater efficiency will help to ease the pressure on the Earth’s diminishing resources.

The growth of the world economy is putting unsustainable pressure on Earth’s resources. This will get worse as the global population moves towards 9 billion. More competition for limited resources will mean higher prices and instability – global trends that will have huge impacts on the European economy.

This is why the EU is pushing for “resource efficiency”, which means using resources in a more sustainable way. Raw materials like water, minerals and timber need to be managed more efficiently throughout their life-cycle, from when they are first extracted to when they are finally disposed of.

Depending less on limited resources will make Europe less vulnerable to supply shortages and volatile market prices. Green technologies and renewable energy, eco-industries and recycling can all help. Everyone will do better as a result: if we carried on using resources at the current rate, by 2050 it would take the equivalent of more than two planets to sustain us.

Three quarters of our impact comes from the food and drink sector, buildings and transport. This is why we need to transform the way we produce and consume food, we need better infrastructure and cleaner transport. Redesigning products will make them better for us and for the environment.

To make the change, the right price signals have to be put in place. Europe needs clear policies to allow these transformations to take place.

The EU vision is of an economy that grows while respecting resource constraints and planetary boundaries. To become more resource-efficient, millions of companies and consumers will need to transform the ways they produce and consume. Everyone involved will need to make sure that policy, financing, investment, research and innovation are pulling in the same direction.

Europe 2020, the EU's growth strategy, aims to make the EU a smart, sustainable and inclusive economy. One of the building blocks of this initiative is the Roadmap to a Resource-Efficient Europe. It shows the way to a more sustainable economy, with policy initiatives that aim to stimulate greater innovation for short-term and long-term economic and environmental benefits.