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Resources for our Future

Resources for our Future: Key Issues and Best Practices in Resource Efficiency

Rob Weterings
Ton Bastein
Arnold Tukker
Michel Rademaker
Marjolein de Ridder
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  • Book Info
    Resources for our Future
    Book Description:

    Compiling years of research into the geopolitical, economic, and ecological dimensions of material scarcity and resource efficiency,Resources for our Futureprovides a concise analysis of international resource efficiency. Offering an inspiring account of industrial best practices, the editors have put together a broad range of case studies, which focus on the chemical, textile, and food industries.

    eISBN: 978-90-485-1877-7
    Subjects: General Science, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, Business

Table of Contents

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  1. Foreword
    (pp. 9-10)
    Bernard Wientjes

    The availability of critical resources for a competitive price is a fast-growing concern for business and industry but also for governments all over the world.

    As the Dutch economy depends very heavily on the availability of many different resources, an early and sustainable response from business and industry is necessary. Companies can stepwise reduce their vulnerability by first analyzing their specific situation regarding critical resources, second by developing a resource strategy, and third by innovating. Innovation can result in more and further reuse or in developing alternatives for less readily available or expensive resources.

    For our business and industry, these...

  2. 1 Introduction
    (pp. 17-22)

    Natural resources, including minerals, water, energy and arable land, are the basis of human society. However, the levels of consumption of these resources are rising rapidly. As a consequence, Earth’s climate is changing, fish stocks and forests are shrinking, the prices of energy resources and critical materials are rising, and species are becoming extinct.

    According to many scholars, population size and economic prosperity are the two main drivers of human impact on natural resources and ecosystems. Consider the following equation, originally presented by Ehrlich and Holdren (1971), which is often used to describe the relation between human impact and these...

  3. 2 Resource constraints
    (pp. 23-38)

    The geopolitics of natural resources are shaped by the growing demand and the more slowly growing supplies. In recent decades the demand for fossil fuels, land and mineral resources has grown exponentially as a result of drivers such as population growth, industrialization and urbanization. According to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC, 2011: 5-8), energy demand will increase by 51% by 2035, most of it from non-OECD countries. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization expects that food production will need to increase up to 70% by 2050 to meet the demand from the world’s growing population (OECD/FAO, 2009)....

  4. 3 The geopolitics of resources
    (pp. 39-68)

    Population growth, economic development and changing consumption patterns are putting tremendous pressure on the demand for natural resources. Whereas demand is growing rapidly, supply is growing much more slowly due to a complex mix of factors, such as technological challenges, financial barriers or hindering legislation. The imbalance between booming demand and limited supply has resulted in high prices and increased competition between countries over access to natural resources. At the same time, the international system is in transition. The relative power of the West is declining and the influence of emerging economies is growing. Slowly, the world is moving from...

  5. 4 Resource strategies
    (pp. 69-86)

    Improving resource efficiency is about improving the quality of life while limiting environmental degradation, using resources more wisely and changing patterns of production and consumption. In a world that is reaching the physical limits of consumption, ensuring the more efficient use of natural resources is essential. The fact that resource efficiency is one of the flagship elements of the European Union’s framework programme Horizon 2020 is evidence of the increasing awareness of the urgent need to improve resource efficiency.

    In the 30-year update toThe Limits to Growth, Meadows et al. (2004: 236) call for action along two lines: improving...

  6. 5 Resource efficiency in the built environment
    (pp. 87-100)

    The built environment uses a substantial amount of energy and minerals. In terms of volume, construction minerals are much more important than industrial and metallic minerals. Construction minerals are not scarce: sand, gravel, stone, lime and clay can be found almost everywhere. However, producing building materials such as cement, asphalt and brick from these construction minerals is energy and material intensive. The actual use of buildings also affects overall energy use and CO2emissions in the built environment. Technological innovations, awareness programmes and urban planning have all been deployed to reduce the consumption of fossil-based energy by residents of houses...

  7. 6 Resource efficiency in the food sector
    (pp. 101-118)

    The food industry produces most of the food ingredients, food products, meals and drinks we consume on a day-to-day basis. This industry has organized our food chain in such a professional way that it has become perfectly normal to buy food at the supermarket. Most of the harvesting and production, refining and preparation has been done for us, enabling us to enjoy the final product, without wondering where it came from and whether it will be available for us tomorrow or the day after tomorrow.

    Feeding society impacts large areas of farming land and uses huge amounts of fertilizer, biotic...

  8. 7 Biotic resources in the process industry
    (pp. 119-136)

    The chemical industry produces most of the ingredients, compounds and semi-products used in the majority of products manufactured in our society. Fossil fuels are traditionally the main resource used in the chemical process industry. However, this means that the security of oil supplies and oil prices are a major concern. Competition for access to fossil energy carriers has already caused energy prices to rise. In its 2011 World Energy Outlook the International Energy Agency states that ‘rising transport demand and upstream costs reconfirm the end of cheap oil.’ In addition, the concentration of supplies is sometimes causing supply chain disruptions...

  9. 8 Resource efficiency in the metal and consumer electronics industries
    (pp. 137-150)

    Electronic devices and domestic appliances generally contain two types of material: plastics and metals. Most plastics are extremely durable and persist well beyond the economic lifetimes of products, yet cables, cars and consumer electronics and the large volumes of plastics they contain are dumped or incinerated as waste, even though they could be recycled. The metals – including iron, copper and aluminium – may be present in the form of alloys, immobilized in structures, dissolved in liquids or in powder form, making it difficult and expensive to recover them in the quantities and levels of quality needed for their eventual...

  10. 9 Resource efficiency in fashion and furnishings
    (pp. 151-164)

    Fashion and furnishing fabrics bring colour to our lives. Because tastes differ and styles change over time, the textile industry produces a wide range of different products with very short economic lifetimes. Resource efficiency is an issue here. Not only because even the highest-quality products are disposed of as waste within a limited time, but also because their production is energy and resource intensive. In addition, most textile companies use fresh water in their production processes to ensure the quality of the final products. This results in considerable volumes of waste water.

    Closing material loops, integrated chain management, cradle to...

  11. 10 The challenges ahead
    (pp. 165-174)

    Mankind has long enjoyed the abundant food, arable land, water, energy, metals and minerals provided by planet Earth. We have come a long way from the primitive biobased economy in which mankind depended on the crops, prey, water, timber and tools that Earth’s ecosystems handed to us. We learned to mine metals and minerals, developed new means and processes to apply them and gradually worked our way into the present minerals-based economy. The industrial revolution enabled a large jump in terms of quality of life, but it also marked a steep rise in the exploitation of metals, minerals and fossil...