UK uses less materials as resource efficiency improves

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New information from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed that the amount of materials used in the UK fell dramatically between 2001 and 2013.

From a peak of 889.9 million tonnes in 2001 (15.1 tonnes per person), material consumption fell to 659.1 million tonnes (10.3 tonnes per person) by 2013.

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It was actually lowest, and most resource efficient in 2011 at 642 million tonnes (10.1 tonnes per person).

Although the weight of imported products has generally increased since 2000, which off-sets the decline in extraction of raw material in the UK, the quantity of raw material required to manufacture the imported products has decreased.

This suggests improved resource efficiency according to the ONS.

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A narrowing in the gap between exports at all stages of manufacturing and in raw material extraction between 2000 and 2013 also suggests that resource efficiency is improving.

This is likely to be as a result of energy efficiency, improved production processes and more material recycling and reuse.

Using the domestic material consumption (DMC) comparison, only Spanish people used less material per person than the UK at 8.4 tonnes compared to 8.9 tonnes per person. This indicator is less used than the raw material consumption one that works out at 10.1 tonnes per person when imports are taken into account.

The people of Finland use the most material using the DMC indicator at close to 35 tonnes per person, while the EU average is 13.2 tonnes per person.