Resource efficiency policy research at the Wuppertal Institute focuses on how the extraction, processing, use, consumption and disposal of resources are connected to environmental impacts and the current legitimation and control crises.
Resource efficiency quite simply means to achieve more with less. However, economic incentives alone are not enough to make 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 policy levels – 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 characterised in particular by its cross-sectoral nature: it combines classic policy fields like raw material extraction, product use, and waste policy.
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 recent years for developing 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 project).
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. 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 at 28 billion tonnes for Germany alone. This is of great future significance according to the vision of a resource efficient circular economy, which must first transform from the primary to the secondary raw material economy. In a multidisciplinary team using 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.
Here you find publications on resource efficiency policy.
Here you find research activities in the field of resource efficiency policy.