Material footprint per capita
The material footprint (raw material consumption, RMC) indicates the total quantity of raw materials that are required in Switzerland or abroad to cover Swiss demand for goods and services. All materials that are consumed in the product life cycle are included in this indicator. The extraction, transport, use and disposal of material pollute the environment due to land use and emissions. A reduction of the material footprint is therefore important.
At an average rate of 43%, non-metallic minerals were the material category with the highest level of consumption between 2000 and 2015. They are mainly used in the construction industry (sand, gravel etc.).
Switzerland’s material footprint per capita fell by one tonne between 2000 and 2015 and was approximately 17 tonnes in 2015. This places Switzerland above the European average and exceeds the planetary boundary, which is estimated to be around 5 to 8 tonnes (UBA 2015). For this reason, the state is rated negatively. Although the trend is moving in the right direction, a reduction on the scale recorded up to now will not result in a level that is compatible with the planetary boundary by 2050. Thus the development is evaluated as insatisfactory.
The total value of the material footprint increased by 9% between 2000 and 2015 to reach 139 million tonnes in 2015.
Material efficiency, measured by dividing Switzerland’s gross domestic product and raw material consumption in tonnes, improved by 20% between 2000 and 2015: While the gross domestic product grew by approximately 29% in the same period, the total material footprint increased significantly less, i.e. by about 9%.
At approximately 17 tonnes per capita, Switzerland’s material footprint in 2015 was above the European average of around 14 tonnes per capita (EU-27).
This indicator describes the raw material consumption caused by domestic final demand. Raw materials are also used abroad to produce, transport, use and dispose of goods and services consumed in Switzerland. The indicator includes both resource consumption that occurs abroad and the percentage of domestic extraction that is used to cover Swiss final demand. All materials extracted from nature, with the exception of water and air, are taken into account.
The data on domestic raw material consumption are collected as part of the environmental accounting of the Federal Statistical Office (FSO).
The indicator is calculated based on a method developed by the Statistical Office of the European Union (Eurostat). This method can be used to convert the imports and exports of a country into raw material equivalents (RME). It involves a hybrid approach that combines environmentally extended input-output tables (IOT) with life cycle assessments (LCA).
The calculation of raw material equivalents is based on a model. As a result, it is subject to much more uncertainty than a calculation based on direct flows.
Consumption-related material efficiency is measured by dividing Switzerland’s gross domestic product (at 2010 prices) and raw material consumption (RMC) in tonnes.