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from resource efficiency to eco-effectiveness - Defra study

Time to move from resource efficiency to eco-effectiveness and uncertainty management

Research Study Published: Resource Risks to Business
By: Jackie Butterfield January 10, 2011 2:51 PM

Just before Christmas Defra published the research study: A Review of Resource Risks to Business and an Assessment of Future Viability, which can be accessed here .

This project is a component of Defra’s Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP) Evidence Programme. SCP relates to an economy in which the life cycles of products and services are designed to have reduced environmental impacts whilst benefiting the economy and social prosperity.

Evidence suggests that certain materials and resources are under threat and that their availability and market price in the medium to longer term is uncertain. Such resources include timber, water and fish and also resources necessary to build high technology products that many see as essential to both business viability and also delivery of policy goals including the fight against climate change.

The extent to which business is aware of the threats is variable. Awareness is pivotal to action being taken by business to conserve the resources and to find alternatives. Work recently developed for Defra identified that UK business could save over £6 billion by adopting resource efficiency measures that cost nothing or would pay back within a year.

Defra is already committed to raising business awareness of resource efficiency via the ‘Saving Money, It’s Your Business’ campaign and the booklet ‘Can You Afford Not to?’ Defra's Sustainable Business Resource Efficiency (SBRE) team is keen to build on the good work that has been conducted to date. This project will therefore identify the resources posing the greatest risk to specific business sectors because of anticipated threats to their availability. The results will enable Defra to engage efficiently with individual sectors.

The project had 2 high-level aims:

- To identify those resource issues which represent the greatest threats and opportunities for UK businesses; in the short, medium and long-term (20 plus years); and

- To assemble data on the nature and scale of those threats and opportunities in order to provide a stronger evidence base for the business case for resource efficiency, as outlined in the project background.

From a set of agreed criteria, and using publicly available data, 12 key resources were highlighted for further study. These were lithium, aggregates, tin, lead, copper, palm oil, rare earth metals, timber, fish, phosphorus, cobalt and indium.

Defra would like to get the views of the materials community on the findings and would welcome suggestions for names of colleagues who like to participate in order to validate the research.