How extraction, processing, use, consumption and disposal of resources along global value chains and in value-added networks are connected with environmental impacts, and also with the legitimation and control crises of this time, is the focus of resource efficiency policy research at the Wuppertal Institute.

Resource efficiency quite simply means to achieve more with less. However, economic incentives alone are not sufficient for making the economy as a whole more resource efficient. A framework of resource efficiency policies (mixes of both regulatory and economic policies across all levels) must play a central role.

Important decisions directly linked to short and long-term resource production and consumption are made across all levels of policies – from the global to household levels (such as mining permits, urban development, economic development, mobility planning, behaviour concerning the disposal of waste, etc.). Resource efficiency policy is characterized in particular by its cross-sectoral character: it combines classic policy fields like raw material extraction, product use and waste policy.

Sack truck
The perfect packaging with a mimum of resource requirements and waste generation

In this policy field, the systematic cross-country comparisons and evaluation of political processes, institutional structures, framework conditions and target systems as well as the underlying content-related and normative criteria and dimensions have proved to be helpful in the last years in order to develop target group and policy-specific instruments and visions. It has also been shown that in addition to complex policy systems, combinations of instruments (policy mixes) must be developed and implemented in order to shape the transformation into a resource efficient economy (for example in the project Policy Options for a Resource Efficient Economy).

The analysis of obstacles, path dependencies, and synergetic and conflicting objectives is of particular importance because resource efficiency policy affects areas like climate, energy, mobility and infrastructure. All economic sectors, including the service sector, directly and significantly use all types of raw materials. The so-called anthropogenic material storage, which comprises all buildings of technical infrastructure and building construction, housing technology, capital goods and durable consumer goods, is estimated to be 28 billion tonnes for Germany alone. According to the vision of a resource efficient circular economy, which must first transform from the primary to the secondary raw material economy, this is of great future significance. In a multidisciplinary team with a broad methodological spectrum, the Wuppertal Institute develops and deepens policy options for promoting resource efficiency at the business, household, municipal, regional, national and international levels.


Bettina Bahn-Walkowiak

Tel.: +49 202 2492-276

Fax: +49 202 2492-108


Here you find publications on resource efficiency policy.


Here you find research activities in the field of resource efficiency policy.

Cookie Settings

Cookies help us to constantly improve the website for you. By clicking on the "Allow cookies" button, you agree to the use of cookies. For further information on the use of cookies or to change your settings, please click on More about the use and rejection of cookies.