Raw material productivity is a key indicator in the German strategy for sustainable development located in the chapter about “conservation of resources”. Raw material productivity relates the gross domestic product (GDP) to the sum of domestically extracted abiotic raw materials and imported abiotic raw materials, semi-finished products and finished products. The main objective of this research project was to further develop or supplement this existing indicator.
First of all the basic concepts of “natural resource” and “raw material” was clearly defined and put into the context of existing resource strategies. The broad concept of natural resource was adopted and six types of natural resources were identified (raw material, energy, water, land, biodiversity and the sink function of environmental media) Headline indicators were suggested for each of them. An aggregated indicator was developed and discussed which was called Environmental Impact Load (EVIL).
The pressures represented by four resource indicators and four environmental indicators for the sink function were calculated for all imported goods with the help of 130 resource and environmental profiles and the German import statistics of the year 2005. This step was necessary to resolve the asymmetric approach of calculating the pressures caused by imports and domestic production and consumption. The “rucksacks” of the imports were accounted with domestic figures and the export “rucksacks”. The raw material demand of imported goods expressed in raw material equivalent was derived to be twice as high as the domestic material extraction.
Finally the function of the different resource indicators to represent each other was tested with the help of correlations. As a first approximation a certain correlation exists between some indicators. But it is recommended that each resource indicator should be kept separate for specific evaluations.