The world is facing a tremendous resource supply challenge. One strategy of regions and nations to address this issue is to encourage research and innovation through funding programs. Most of the time, these programs require that research and innovation projects quantify potential increases in resource efficiency achieved by the projects. However, no consensus exists on how to calculate resource efficiency; therefore, a wide range of approaches is followed. As a result, resource efficiency results are not comparable between projects, and because no rules or guidelines exist to help project developers, the approach followed is not always appropriate. This paper aims to discuss the existing approaches and methods used to evaluate resource efficiency. In this context, resource efficiency is defined as the ratio between the benefits obtained from resources and the impact or amount of resources used. The most challenging step is the determination of this ratio’s denominator because a wide range of methods to quantify resource consumption exist and are being used. They can be classified as gate-to-gate or life cycle based methods and can be subdivided into accounting methods and impact assessment methods. Each method considers different aspects of resources; thus, no single method aims to answer the same research questions. Therefore, project developers must make a well informed choice about which method to use. This paper provides recommendations to support this choice, as well as the overall evaluation and the valorization of the resource efficiency ratio in the framework of research and innovation programs.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited