In the past years, the increase in consumer expenditure usually did not result in an increase in environmental pollution by households.
Consumption up, direct environmental pollution down
Between 1995 and 2005, consumer expenditure rose by 29 percent. On the other hand, direct air pollution caused by households like, for example, emissions of acidifying substances and small air particles was reduced. Cleaner engines and motor fuels contributed to the reduction of air pollution. Dumping of heavy metals into water was reduced by 16 percent, mainly due to a ban to apply cupriferous paint on recreational boats. Household waste production increased by 22 percent. Waste production is thus proportional to the increase in consumer expenditure.
Environmental indicators and household consumer expenditure
CO2 emission households stable due to milder winters
Households contribute directly to the greenhouse effect when driving their cars and using natural gas. The amount of CO2 produced by motor traffic grew by 22 percent between 1995 and 2005. Total CO2 emission by households rose only marginally, because the consumption of natural gas diminished due to the relatively mild winters in recent years. The number of degree days measured in De Bilt fell by over 5 percent in the period 1995 - 2005.
CO2 emission households
Indirect environmental pollution due to consumption
Domestic production of consumer goods and services indirectly contributes to pollution of the environment. The use of electricity by households indirectly contributes to the greenhouse effect, because CO2 is emitted during the production of electrical energy.
Approximately one quarter of total (direct as well as indirect) contribution to the greenhouse effect by households is caused by the electricity consumption. Food production, waste production and acidification contribute 6, 14 and 22 percent respectively to the greenhouse effect.
Environmental pollution by households, 2005
Roel Delahaye and Sjoerd Schenau