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Domestic metal consumption

In 2016, domestic consumption of metals was over 40 percent lower than in 2000. Consumption levels may fluctuate sharply from year to year; metal consumption fell between 2000 and 2007 and has gradually increased again from 2009 onwards.

Metals cover both resources (metal ores ) and products that primarily consist of metal (like cars). Domestic consumption of metals is calculated as exports minus imports. In the Netherlands, no extraction of metal ores takes place. Resources and semi-manufactured products are mainly used by the manufacturing industry. Final products are used by households or as investments by companies.

The issue

Raw materials are key inputs for our economy. Worldwide population growth and increasing prosperity have led to greater demand for products and consequently for the natural resources they are made of. Environmental pressures from CO2 emissions and water use, for example, increase as a result. One of the main challenges in the transition to green growth is ensuring that materials are used efficiently at all points in the production process.


Both imports and exports of metals show an upward trend which fluctuates over time. Since 2000, domestic metal consumption has declined with imports growing at a slower pace than exports. Consumption rose sharply in 2008, followed by sharp decline in 2009 on account of the economic crisis. Exports fell sharply in 2008 while imports remained at 2007 levels. As of 2009, metal consumption increased slightly again, with imports growing faster than exports.

International comparison

In 2016, the Netherlands was one of the European countries with a relatively low metal consumption per capita (337 kg). However, this varied from year to year; consumption reached its highest level in 2008 at 620 kg per capita. Sweden has a higher metal consumption per capita than other European countries, due to the mining and processing of metal ores in this country. Ore processing is characterised by the release of large quantities of material (in particular stone) that does not end up in the final metal product. However, this residual material is still allocated to metal consumption. If the use of metal products was recalculated on the basis of the ores used to make these products (the so-called raw material equivalents), the comparison between countries could look different.