EconPapers    
Economics at your fingertips  
 

Eco-efficiency of Virgin Resources: A Measure at the Interface Between Micro and Macro Levels

Frank Figge (), Philippe Givry, Louise Canning, Franklin-Johnson, Elizabeth and Andrea Thorpe

Ecological Economics, 2017, vol. 138, issue C, 12-21

Abstract: Eco-efficiency is often considered an adequate response to the problem of the scarcity of non-renewable resources. Even if a more eco-efficient use of natural resources cannot guarantee lower resource consumption, it can allow a better combination of desirable economic activity with undesirable resource use. However, more eco-efficient use of resources at the micro-level does not always lead to higher eco-efficiency at the macro-level. This is due to resource flows between actors at the micro-level. They use both virgin resources and resources that have been previously used. Virgin resources represent the relevant scarcity at the macro-level, while eco-efficiency at the micro-level typically does not discriminate between virgin and used resources. We develop an eco-efficiency formula that closes this gap. Our formula not only allows the measurement of the eco-efficiency of virgin resource use at the micro-level, but also helps to identify the drivers of the eco-efficiency of virgin resource use. Application of the formula to the case of gold in smartphones points to the very limited potential of technical improvements and shows that behavioural and collaborative endeavours promise dramatically higher improvements in eco-efficiency. This calls for a reconsideration of the focus of efforts to increase eco-efficiency for sustainable development.

Keywords: Eco-efficiency; Virgin Resources; Measure (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2017
References: View references in EconPapers View complete reference list from CitEc
Citations: View citations in EconPapers (2) Track citations by RSS feed

Downloads: (external link)
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0921800916315592
Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

Related works:
This item may be available elsewhere in EconPapers: Search for items with the same title.

Export reference: BibTeX RIS (EndNote, ProCite, RefMan) HTML/Text

Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:138:y:2017:i:c:p:12-21

Access Statistics for this article

Ecological Economics is currently edited by C. J. Cleveland

More articles in Ecological Economics from Elsevier
Bibliographic data for series maintained by Dana Niculescu ().

 
Page updated 2019-12-07
Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:138:y:2017:i:c:p:12-21