Report 2020

Poland on the way to SDGs
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Goal 12. Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns

Worldwide natural resources consumption

Excessive extraction and exploitation of the planet’s limited resources is one of the factors leading to environmental degradation. The degree to which economies use natural resources can be measured in several ways, two of which are material footprint and domestic material consumption (DMC). Material footprint measures the potential amount of materials required within the whole supply chain in order to satisfy the final demand for goods in a given economy (e.g. minerals or biomass). It also takes into consideration materials essential in the production process and transport of goods which have not been used in the territory of the country of origin (but have been used e.g. in the process of manufacturing and transport of imported goods). Domestic material consumption (DMC), on the contrary, measures the total amount of materials actually consumed in economic processes within a given economy. If DMC surpasses material footprint, it means that materials obtained by a given economy are also exported for consumption purposes of other countries. DMC lower than material footprint indicates that materials are imported by a country or a region, so consumption in this country or region is dependent on resources imported from other economies.

Material Footprint per capita (tonnes)

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2005 2017
WORLD 9.5 11.4
AFRICA 2.9 2.9
Northern America 39.2 30.9
Asia and the Pacific 7.1 11.2
Western Asia 8.8 11.6
EUROPE 17.8 18.0

Estimates put the amount of raw materials necessary to satisfy the world consumption in a year (material footprint) at 92 billion tonnes, and the actual material use (material consumption) reaches comparable levels. There are visible differences between the volume of domestic material consumption and material footprint across regions. In Europe and Northern America, DMC is lower than material footprint (by over 3 billion tonnes in each of them), which means that the countries of these regions consume not only their own resources, but also the imported ones. In the majority of the remaining regions, domestic material consumption is lower than material footprint (these regions export their natural resources). The most notable difference can be observed in Asia and the Pacific (11 billion tonnes), and a considerably smaller one – in Western Asia and Africa (1 to 2 billion tonnes).

The largest material footprint (47 billion tonnes) and DMC (58 billion tonnes) is reported in the Asia and Pacific region, and the smallest in Oceania, Western Asia and Africa (1 to a few billion tonnes). In most of the world’s regions these two indicators have increased since 2005, although Northern America, for example, recorded a decrease in both material footprint (by 13%) and domestic material consumption (by 22%). Domestic material consumption has also fallen slightly in Europe (by 2%) since 2015.

As the UN indicates, the consumption of raw materials is growing at a faster rate than the world’s population. Both the global material footprint and the domestic material consumption per capita have increased from nearly 10 tonnes in 2005 to 11-12 tonnes. Their growth, most significant in Asia, has been observed in the majority of the world’s regions. Among the exceptions to this trend is Northern America, which has seen a decrease in each of them. This region is nevertheless characterised by the largest consumption of raw materials per person: material footprint per capita in Northern America is 31 tonnes, and domestic material consumption 21 tonnes. The lowest values of material footprint (3 tonnes) and material consumption (5 tonnes) per person, on the contrary, is observed in Africa.

Non-metallic raw materials and non-metallic construction materials are used by the world economy to the largest degree of all materials – the annual world consumption of each of them equals 6 tonnes per person (growth by 2 tonnes compared to 2005 in both cases). Biomass, whose level of consumption has remained stable since 2005 and amounts to 3 tonnes per person annually, ranks third. Northern America, Asia and Oceania are the world’s largest consumers of non-metallic raw materials and non-metallic consumption materials, with their annual consumption per capita amounting to 6-8 tonnes. Oceania, Latin America and the Caribbean are the leaders in biomass consumption (7 tonnes per person a year).

Domestic Material Consumption per capita (tonnes)

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2005 2017
WORLD 9.8 12.2
AFRICA 4.3 4.8
AMERICAS 17.8 16.0
Latin America and the Caribbean 10.9 13.2
Northern America 29.8 21.1
ASIA 8.3 13.0
EUROPE 14.3 13.8
OCEANIA 33.0 28.0

Electronic waste in the world

Side effects of consumption include the generation of electronic waste which contains harmful substances. The average inhabitant of the world produces annually approximately 7 kilograms of electronic waste, which is over twice as much as in 2005. This kind of waste is generated mainly by developed regions, reaching the highest levels in Northern America, where the annual electronic waste production per capita is 21 kilograms. The value of this indicator also exceeds the world average in Europe and Oceania, where it amounts to 16 kilograms a year per capita. Sub-Saharan Africa is the region where the smallest amounts of electronic waste are generated per capita, i.e. 2 kilograms a year.

Electronic waste generated, per capita (kilograms)

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2005 2019
WORLD 3.9 7.3
Northern Africa 2.8 5.4
Sub-Saharan Africa 0.7 1.8
Latin America and the Caribbean 4.5 8.8
Northern America 14.7 20.9
ASIA 2.2 5.6
EUROPE 11.0 16.2
OCEANIA 11.1 15.9

Material consumption in Poland

The annual consumption of raw materials for the needs of the Polish economy is 702 million tonnes (9% more than at the beginning of the decade), while the material footprint is 640 million tonnes (increase of 8%). Poland is thus one of the six EU economies whose actual domestic material consumption (DMC) exceeds the material footprint (by 70 million tonnes), which indicates that the amount of raw materials produced by the country is sufficient to satisfy the consumption needs of other countries in addition to domestic needs. A similar situation occurs in Romania, Bulgaria, Sweden, Ireland and Estonia.

The annual consumption of raw materials per person in Poland amounts to 19 tonnes, which is more than the EU average (13 tonnes). Compared to 2010, this amount has increased by 2 tonnes in Poland, while the EU average in this respect has slightly fallen (by 0.4 tonne). The material footprint, on the other hand, reaching 17 tonnes per person in Poland (increase by 2 tonnes since the beginning of the decade), is below the EU average (21 tonnes, the same as in 2010).

Domestic Material Consumption per capita (tonnes)

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2010 2019
PL 17.0 18.5
EU 13.8 13.4

Raw material resources are currently used in Poland in a slightly more productive way than at the beginning of the decade, yet still less efficiently than on average in the EU. One kilogram of materials can generate GDP of 1.2 PPS (2.3 PPS per kilogram on average in the EU), which puts Poland fifth among other EU Member States in terms of least effective material usage. In 2010, one kilogram of material generated GDP of 0.9 PPS, while the EU average was at that time 1.8 PPS.

Resource productivity (PPS/kilogram)

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2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
PL 0.94 0.81 0.96 1.03 1.07 1.14 1.11 1.10 1.12 1.24
EU 1.83 1.79 1.95 2.03 2.05 2.14 2.19 2.22 2.26 2.34

Energy is used more productively by the Polish economy now than it was at the beginning of the decade. One energy unit expressed in kgoe is sufficient to produce GDP of nearly 8 PPS (compared to 6 PPS in 2010), which is still slightly less effective than the EU average (one unit of energy is able to produce GDP of 9 PPS there).

Energy productivity (PPS/kgoe)

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2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
PL 5.95 6.37 6.85 6.88 7.35 7.64 7.41 7.42 7.68
EU 6.97 7.42 7.57 7.76 8.25 8.45 8.60 8.78 9.13

Reuse of materials

Reuse of materials is among most desirable means to achieving sustainable consumption and production. In Poland, approximately 10% of the materials consumed annually in production processes are those which have been recycled and reintroduced into the economy. The EU average in this respect is slightly higher, and amounts approx. to 12%. Of all EU Member States, the Netherlands can boast the largest share of recycled materials in their total material consumption (30%), while the Irish economy uses recycled materials to the smallest degree (2%).

Circular material use rate (%)

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2010 2017
PL 10.8 9.5
EU 11.1 11.7

Raport 2020
Poland on the way to SDGs
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