© Hollandse Hoogte

Raw material footprint

Between 2010 and 2016, the per capita raw material footprint (or per capita raw material consumption, RMC) fell from 11.2 tonnes to 8.1 tonnes. This represents a decrease of over 27 percent.

The raw material footprint gives an indication of the amount of raw materials which are sourced from across the globe to meet Dutch final demand, i.e. both consumption and investments. Domestically extracted raw materials used for the production of goods and services which are destined to be exported abroad are not included in the Dutch raw material footprint.

The raw material footprint indicator is calculated by using RME (raw material equivalents) coefficients and the RME tool provided by Eurostat.

The issue

The economy depends on the input of natural resources such as water, energy carriers and other raw materials. Likewise, economic growth often leads to an increase in the use of natural resources. Resource efficiency and its development over time are therefore important indicators of green growth.

Environmental problems as a result of natural resource use, such as climate change and loss of biodiversity, are not limited to national borders. The raw material footprint gives an impression of global environmental pressure as a result of Dutch consumption. In addition, the international trade flows provide insight into the dependence on foreign raw materials.

Analysis

The Dutch raw material footprint decreased from 186 billion kg in 2010 to 138 billion kg in 2016. This means that fewer raw materials were used globally to meet Dutch final demand. The sharpest decline occurred between 2010 and 2012, but the raw material footprint also declined in the other years, mainly as a result of reduced consumption of non-metallic minerals. The raw material footprint of non-metallic minerals decreased by 26 billion kg or almost 45 percent between 2010 and 2016. Both domestic extraction and imports of non-metallic minerals have remained relatively constant, but exports of non-metallic minerals have increased.

The raw material footprint of metals, biomass and fossil energy carriers has also decreased, but less sharply. Domestic extraction of fossil energy carriers (natural gas) saw a substantial drop, but this was partially compensated by increased imports. There is no domestic extraction of metals in the Netherlands and domestic extraction of biomass has remained almost constant. However, exports of both biomass and metals have increased relatively more than imports.

International comparison

Internationally, the Netherlands is performing relatively well in terms of the raw material footprint. In 2014, the raw material footprint of the Netherlands was 8.8 tonnes of raw material per capita. The average raw material footprint in the EU-28 was 14.2 tonnes per capita. The Netherlands performs relatively well because it is a densely populated country. As a result, the infrastructure, which requires a lot of mineral resources, can be used efficiently. Only the raw material footprint of fossil energy carriers in the Netherlands was higher than the EU-28 average. This is partly because the Netherlands still uses relatively much fossil energy carriers to generate energy for Dutch households.