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.

Sack truck
The perfect packaging with a minimum 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 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.

Related publications

Are Tenants Willing to Pay for Energy Efficiency?

Small-scale analysis shows that although there is a price premium for energy efficiency for rental flats in Wuppertal, it is very low

Zeit für den Kurswechsel: hin zu einer klimagerechten ressourcenleichten Gesellschaft

Beitrag für die politische Debatte im Wahljahr 2021

Transition Towards a Resource Efficient Circular Economy in Europe

Paper about policy lessons from the EU and the Member States

Approach of Resource Efficiency at EU Level

Article published about the institutional dimension of resource efficiency

Policies and Practices for Eco-Innovation Uptake and Circular Economy Transition

New EIO report published

A Resource-Efficient Europe – Programme for Climate, Competitiveness and Employment

Scientific opinion of the Resources Commission of the German Environment Agency

National Policies for Resource Efficiency and Waste Management

Structures, impacts, and deficits

Key Trade-Offs within a Policy Mix for Resource Efficiency

Conference paper published

Benefits of Resource Efficiency in Germany

Study on potential and multiple benefits of resource efficiency

Resource Targets in Europe and Worldwide

An overview published

A Vision for a Resource Efficient Europe

Online-article in the European Journal of Futures Research

A New SAPIENS Issue Is Online

With special topic Resource Efficiency

International Resource Politics - New Challenges Demanding New Governance Approaches for a Green Economy

New publication by Heinrich Böll Foundation and Wuppertal Institute

Towards a Resource Policy

Raimund Bleischwitz published in Mineral Economics

Economic Analysis of Resource Efficiency Policies

Final Report now published

Report: Resource Efficiency in Europe

Policies and approaches in 31 EEA member and cooperating countries


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

Related projects

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.