Raw material consumption increases once again - to 16.1 tonnes per capita and year
The German Environment Agency (UBA) is urging a reform of European regulations on value added tax (VAT) to promote a reduction of raw material consumption. UBA's President Maria Krautzberger says: "The best way to save money is to save money." The EU has already approved this practice not for items such as electrical and electronic equipment. According to UBA, Raw Material Consumption in Germany has dropped by a total of 17 percent since 2000 but has again crept up in recent years. Statistically speaking, every person consumes 16.1 tonnes of raw materials per year - 10% higher than the European average.
Germany consumes some 1.3 billion tonnes of fossil fuels, minerals, ores and biomass per year. UBA 's Use of Natural Resources Report claims that the majority of raw material consumption is non-metallic minerals (45%), fossil fuels (29%) and biomass (21%). Although raw material consumption in Germany is becoming more and more efficient and has been increased by more than 26% since 2000, Germany has an excessively high level of raw material consumption compared to other countries: 10% higher than the average in Europe, and even 100% higher than the global average. More than half of the raw materials used for the production of goods is sourced from abroad.
A reduced VAT rate for repair services in Germany could create incentives to adopt resource-efficient behavior. EU legislation already allows this for the repair of bicycles, shoes or clothing but not for electrical and electronic equipment. Furthermore, VAT tax breaks for resource-intensive goods should be phased out. European law sets strict limits in this regard. Ms Krautzberger, adding: "We must ensure that investments in resource-efficient technologies and goods are rewarding In many cases, it would make it worthwhile to repair these products. " UBA is also calling for a lower tax rate on products which are especially resource-efficient and have an ecolabel like the Blue Angel.
Responsible resource management is not a topic exclusive to Europe but rather a joint task to be handled by the international community. "This is why we need an international agreement on the protection of natural resources in which the parties commit to numerical figures regarding resource efficiency, minimum standards for the fair extraction of natural resources, and doing without raw materials from trouble-prone regions", said Ms Krautzberger.
The 4th European Resources Forum and National Resources Forum will be discussing these issues on November 27-29 in Berlin together with guests from more than 50 countries.
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