OECD highlights global increase in wasteful consumption

16 May 16

Soaring demand for materials from developing and emerging countries means global resource consumption could double by 2050, the OECD has warned.

It said that, taken together with rapid population growth, this trend risked putting serious pressure on the environment.

Advanced economies had reduced their consumption of raw materials and improved waste management since 1980, but must do more to produce goods that use fewer natural resources and causes less waste, it said.

The OECD’s Policy Guidance on Resource Efficiency report, presented to G7 environment ministers in Toyama, Japan yesterday, called on governments to apply resource-efficient policies to the life cycle of products.

Deputy secretary general Rintaro Tamaki said: “Our objective has to be achieving a circular economy where we maintain the value of products and materials for as long as possible and we minimise waste generation.” 

The OECD report said measures to reduce waste had generally been applied to disposal of products – for example through landfill taxes to divert waste into recycling and energy recovery – but too few incentives existed to encourage greener product designs or more environmentally friendly consumer behaviour.

It recommended that governments strengthen and expand producer responsibility schemes so the onus was on manufacturers to collect and treat products at the end of their lives.

Resource efficiency considerations should be better integrated into public procurement programmes, the OECD added.

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