Resource efficiency: An economic necessity while remaining societal challenge

Published: 16 January 2012

Policies & Issues: Environment

Commission Roadmap / SEC (2011) 1067 final

In a detailed position paper, Orgalime and the European engineering industries it represents, share the concerns and objectives of the European Commission's Resource Efficiency Roadmap...

We are particularly committed to the constant environmental improvement of our own production processes and products. “Creating more with less” or “delivering greater value with less input” immediately reduces production costs, increases profitability and the competitiveness of our industry, where almost 50% of costs relate to material and resource consumption. Resource efficiency therefore represents an indispensible economic necessity for Orgalime industries. Orgalime also agrees that energy efficiency represents a priority topic not only in the context of the EU’s energy and climate change policy but also for the EU’s Resource Efficiency policy. The Eco Design Directive and its ongoing implementation on some 35 different product groups of our industries, particularly on energy or water consumption in the use phase, is therefore a milestone in contributing to resource efficiency.

In addition to constantly improving own processes and products, our industries take further resource efficiency actions, including the conclusion of long term supply contracts, constant investments into research and innovation, substitution of critical raw materials where possible, forming joint ventures or pursuing vertical integration.

Our industries provide ever more energy efficient products to (private and professional) consumers, which at the end of life stage are collected, treated and recycled according to the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive (WEEE), with some 10 million tons of WEEE arising in the EU in 2010.

Our manufacturing activities require many (strategic) raw materials and resources, such as energy, chemicals, ferrous and non-ferrous metals, minerals, plastics and rare earths. Sourcing of raw materials is an increasing challenge as Europe is highly import dependent in certain areas, supply of important primary raw materials (i.e.: rare earths, metals, minerals) is often concentrated in the hand of few companies in few (often also instable) countries. European engineering industries are exposed to price speculations and reduced availability of resources.

At the same time, our industries are the key enabling industries that offer a wide disparity of sustainable products and technology solutions to all other industry sectors (e.g.: high tech monitoring, control or process automation or ICT equipment, to name but a few) and to consumers to implement resource efficiency in practice. The challenge remains to convince and make the market respond to these products.

Several important pillars of resource efficiency of products are already substantially legislated for our sector (i.e.: energy consumption of products in the use phase, restrictions of and information on substance use in products or their end of life management): Our industry is therefore concerned that possible further measures on resource efficiency would undermine the substantial investments made by our industry in implementing existing legislation. This is particularly the case for the more than 35 implementation measures (adopted or underway) under the existing Eco Design of Energy Related Products Directive that target our sector, or the (recast) WEEE and RoHS Directives, further EU waste acquis, the REACH Regulation and major energy policy initiatives, notably the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD), the Energy Labeling Directive or the just tabled proposal for an Energy Efficiency Directive.


Sigrid Linher
Director - Energy, Climate & Environment

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