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Resources 2013, 2(4), 608-627; doi:10.3390/resources2040608

An Environmentally Ineffective Way to Increase Resource Productivity: Evidence from the Italian Case on Transferring the Burden Abroad

Institute for Environmental Protection and Research, Via V. Brancati 48, Rome 00144, Italy
Italian National Institute of Statistics, Via C. Balbo 16, Rome 00184, Italy
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 30 September 2013 / Revised: 21 November 2013 / Accepted: 25 November 2013 / Published: 4 December 2013
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Policy has so far not taken full advantage of the tools offered by the “material flows” school of thought. Resource Productivity (RP) is amongst the normative concepts currently popular among policy makers the nearest one to Material Input Per Service unit (MIPS). However, the RP concept falls substantially short of the MIPS idea, as it puts resource use in relation to the monetary value of production, while MIPS makes reference to services actually delivered by the products. Moreover, the indicator currently used by the European Commission for monitoring RP lacks in life-cycle perspective, which is essential in the MIPS concept. The present paper illustrates, by using Italian case evidence, some of the current RP indicator shortcomings and it discusses a possible alternative, by introducing the life-cycle perspective. In Italy, RP has grown faster than both energy and labour productivity since 1980. This apparently shows that Italy is moving in the right direction. However, a deeper and more extensive analysis regarding the country’s natural resource requirements is necessary before a conclusion can be drawn about the sustainability of the Italian socio-economic process. Therefore, on the one hand we disaggregate material consumption (i.e., the denominator of RP) into its components; on the other hand we extend the analysis to overall material requirements, including indirect material flows associated with international trade. These analyses, although limited to used materials (i.e., to resource requirements in Raw Material Equivalents), demonstrate that the Italian success in increasing RP is largely due to the transferring abroad of material flows and ecological burden. View Full-Text
Keywords: resource productivity; raw material equivalents; vertically integrated products resource productivity; raw material equivalents; vertically integrated products

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Marra Campanale, R.; Femia, A. An Environmentally Ineffective Way to Increase Resource Productivity: Evidence from the Italian Case on Transferring the Burden Abroad. Resources 2013, 2, 608-627.

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