The Sustainable Resource Use Topic Area addresses the challenges associated with the negative environmental impacts generated by the use of natural resources; the rising costs of essential raw materials and minerals, their scarcity and price volatility; and the EU’s resource dependency. The topic area works mainly as a think tank to support the development of new environmental policies, strategies and initiatives as well as the analysis and evaluation of existing ones at European, national and local level. Support is provided to the implementation of the Roadmap to a Resource Efficient Europe and the Circular Economy Package of the EU. Activities cover the thematic areas of resource efficiency; waste and circular economy; industrial emissions and sustainable production; and eco-innovation.
The topic area aims to:
- promote the implementation of the EU Roadmap to a Resource Efficient Europe in Central and Eastern Europe;
- foster the application of strategic approaches and processes targeting sustainable resource use both in economic sectors and in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, South Eastern Europe, and Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia;
- assist businesses in improving their material efficiency;
- strengthen knowledge of European resource use and its negative environmental impacts and significance; and
- raise awareness among stakeholders of the significant negative environmental impacts of resource use.
Topic area activities are centered around the following main themes:
Support is given to the development of national resource efficiency strategies with the aim of promoting the successful implementation of the Roadmap to a Resource Efficient Europe. The focus is on material efficiency, the sourcing of raw materials, substitution, new materials, secondary raw materials, waste as a resource, land and soil use efficiency, using water as a resource, and the secondary use of biomass. The topic area contributed to a survey by the EEA that mapped resource efficiency policies across Europe. In a study for the EC, the topic area team identified resource efficiency measures taken at business level and assessed the results of their implementation. Inputs were also provided to the development of the EEA SCP Indicator Set.
Waste and circular economy
The topic area has deep and broad knowledge in the fields of waste and circular economy. Assistance is provided to European countries to unlock the potential of the Circular Economy Package of the EU. Inputs were provided to the EEA review of the waste prevention programmes of EU member states. The topic area team also contributed to the EEA analysis of the performance of EU member states in municipal solid waste management, assessing historical performance and future possible trends. Experts from the topic area were involved in research activities to develop innovative approaches and effective strategies for the prevention of waste in industries based on industrial networking and industrial symbiosis.
Industrial emissions and sustainable production
The topic area has a long track record in providing support to the EC in relation to industrial emissions legislation and sustainable production, including studies on the assessment of the implementation of the Industrial Emissions Directive, the IPPC Directive, the Paints Directive, the Solvent Emissions Directive, and the VOCs Stage I and Stage II Directives, and an assessment of member states' responses to infringement cases under EU air quality policy.
In the area of eco-innovation, the topic area analyses how national and international policy measures can be designed to accelerate the widespread diffusion and adoption of appropriate environmental technologies, with special attention to material and resources management. The topic area team is involved in the review of the EU Eco-innovation Action Plan (EcoAP). The team has also been contributing to the development of the Procurement of Innovation Platform, an online hub designed to promote the public procurement of innovation and pre-commercial procurement. The topic area team was involved in the activities of the Eco-innovation Observatory of the EU and has contributed to studies and research projects in the areas of environmental technologies and eco-innovation.