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Sustainable production and consumption

Consumers are becoming more aware of the environmental impact of products, and eco-labelling helps them to make informed choices.

To face the challenges confronting us today, we need to change the way we produce and consume goods. We need to create more value while using fewer inputs, reduce costs and minimise impacts on the environment. We need to do more with less.

More efficient production processes and better environmental management systems can significantly reduce pollution and waste, and save water and other resources. This is good for business too, as it can cut operating costs and reduce dependency on raw materials.

Eco-design and eco-innovation can ease the impacts of producing goods. They can help improve the overall environmental performance of products throughout their life-cycle, and boost demand for better production technologies.

Consumers too can make a big difference through the consumption choices they make.

Our biggest consumption impacts on the environment come from food, buildings and transport, and this is where most change is needed. Improving construction and use of buildings in the EU, for example, could cut 42 % of our final energy consumption and about 35 % of our greenhouse gas emissions, and reduce water use by up to 30 %.

Ecolabelling can help consumers make more informed choices. The EU Ecolabel identifies products and services that have a reduced environmental impact throughout their life cycle. The criteria are developed by scientists, NGOs and stakeholders to create a reliable way to make environmentally responsible choices.

Public authorities have a major role to play in greening the EU economy. Spending by public bodies makes up almost 20 % of EU GDP – so by setting the right conditions they can do a lot to steer the market towards more sustainability. Greener spending by public bodies can help increase demand for more resource-efficient services and products.

So although a range of policies are already in place to drive more sustainable consumption and production, everyone can play their own part too. See the Resource efficiency page for more on this subject.