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 45%, non-metallic minerals were the material category with the highest level of consumption between 2000 and 2020. They are mainly used in the construction industry (sand, gravel etc.).
Switzerland’s material footprint per capita fell by 2.9 tonnes between 2000 and 2020 and was approximately 16.5 tonnes in 2020. This reduction since 2019 is primarily attributable to the COVID-19 pandemic. The value is above the European average (EU 27).
The planetary boundary is estimated to be around 5 to 8 tonnes per capita (UBA 2015), although the varying relevance of different raw materials for the environment must be taken into account. In the 2030 Sustainable Development Strategy, the federal government’s aim is a considerable reduction in the per capita material footprint in line with Paris Climate Agreement target of keeping global warming to a maximum of 1.5 degrees Celsius. Although the trend is moving in the right direction, a reduction on the scale recorded up to now will still not achieve the target values. The trend is thus classed as unsatisfactory and the state as poor.
The total value of the material footprint increased by 2.5% between 2000 and 2020 to reach 142.8 million tonnes in 2020.
Material efficiency, measured by dividing Switzerland’s gross domestic product and raw material consumption in tonnes, improved by 36% between 2000 and 2020: While the real gross domestic product grew by approximately 39% in the same period, the total material footprint increased significantly less, i.e. by about 7%.
At approximately 16.5 tonnes per capita, Switzerland’s material footprint in 2020 was above the European average (EU-27) of approx. 13.7 tonnes per capita (Eurostat 2022) and the global average of 12.4 tonnes per capita (SCP Hotspot Analysis).
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 data on domestic raw material consumption are collected as part of the Federal Statistical Office FSO’s environmental accounting. The indicator is calculated based on a method developed by the Statistical Office of the European Union (Eurostat), which 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 method used here differs from the Eurostat method in three ways: 1) the electricity import/export coefficients were adapted to the Swiss situation; 2) the considerable fluctuations in the results for precious metals (gold, silver and platinum) were smoothed out; 3) gold bullion was not included in the analysis.
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 real gross domestic product (GDP, at previous year’s prices, concatenated values, reference year 2015) and raw material consumption (RMC) in tonnes.
|Targeted trend||Initial value||Final value||Deviation from theoretical path in%||Observed trend||Assessment|
|6.5 in 2050||2000||2020||55.91%||Towards theoretical path||unsatisfactory|