May 17, 2016Michael Sutherland-Shaw
If governments don’t rethink the design and production of goods, global resource consumption could double by 2050, according to a new OECD report.
Presented earlier this week to G7 environment ministers in Toyama, Japan, Policy Guidance on Resource Efficiency calls on governments to apply resource-efficiency policies to the entire life cycle of products.
“Our objective has to be achieving a circular economy where we maintain the value of products and materials for as long as possible and we minimize waste generation. The challenge is to create more value from fewer natural resources,” said Rintaro Tamaki, OECD deputy secretary-general.
Since 1980, resource consumption by G7 countries has plateaued, however their per capital consumption is still around 60% above the world average, according to the report.
The report said measures to reduce waste are generally applied to the disposal of products, for example through landfill taxes to divert waste into recycling and energy recovery. In addition, too few incentives exist to encourage greener product designs or more environmentally friendly consumer behaviour.
Other recommendations in the OECD report include:
- Strengthen and expand Extended Producer Responsibility schemes (already used by a majority of OECD countries) whereby manufacturers take responsibility for collecting and treating end-of-life products.
- Better integration resource efficiency considerations into public procurement programs.
- Encourage partnerships among businesses working along value chains so that, for example, one company’s waste can become another’s material input.
- Improve data collection and analysis so policies can be evaluated and improved.