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Government’s analysis, assessment and research activities
Need for reform in the national material efficiency programme

Government Communications Department 21.9.2017 10.14
Press release 413/2017

Ramboll Finland Oy and Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke) have assessed the implementation, effectiveness and problems or delays arising in the execution of the national material efficiency programme, and how material efficiency should be promoted in the future.

The results of this report clarify the image of the national focal points of material efficiency work and the measures which can best accomplish the objectives of national strategy work, the EU's Circular Economy Communication and the UN's 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The report also provides a view of how the tools promoting material efficiency should be developed in the future.

The national material efficiency programme, completed in 2013, aims at economic growth, wise use of natural resources and minimisation of environmental impacts at the same time. The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, the Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry have noted that the programme must be updated so that it can promote its goal as effectively as possible. Research knowledge is needed to serve as background for this reform.

The national material efficiency programme contains eight measures which have included 40 projects in total. The researchers created a frame of assessment to evaluate the measures consistently. Based on the results, the projects directly affecting material efficiency have succeeded well or very well. However, many of the assessed projects had only indirect impacts on material efficiency, for example through promoting resource wisdom and the circular economy.

Making dematerialisation and recycling more essential focal points

The management of material efficiency is becoming an increasingly substantial global challenge. For example, in 2030, there will be a need for 50% more food, 45% more energy and 30% more water in the world.

Based on the assessment, enhancing material efficiency is a key objective in the circular economy and sustainable development also more extensively, but improving it will require targeted measures. For example, material efficiency audits have worked well, but there is a need for more considerably effective promotion measures and research.

The report indicates that the improvement of material efficiency will particularly require additional investments in decentralisation and recycling as well as reuse. The same amount of material will have to produce more goods and services. For instance, this can be related to technologies that reduce the use of materials (cleantech), operating methods, logistics solutions as well as products and services (incl. digitalisation).

The material efficiency programme must also be in line with international development and take into account international agreements, policies (such as the UN's 2030 Agenda) and measures for reducing the global environmental and social load.

The upcoming programme should also include recycling, used to particularly reduce the consumption of non-renewable materials, as a key area of development. In addition to recycling materials, it is important to pay attention to the beginning stages of the processes which involve utilising raw materials and other resources. At the same time, more attention must be paid to the environmental and societal benefits brought by material efficiency as well as any related risks.

The report by Ramboll Finland Oy and Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke) published on 21 September 2017 is part of the implementation of the Government plan for analysis, assessment and research of 2017.

Report (in Finnish)

More information about the Government’s analysis, assessment and research activities is available at tietokayttoon.fi

More information: Leading Expert Joonas Hokkanen, Ramboll Finland Oy, tel. +358 (0)20 755 7216