Resources transition

Nothing less than a new economic model: sustainable resource extraction, use and management
[Translate to English:] © plainpicture / Daniel Ingold

Whether it’s gravel, rare earths, sand or copper – we use excessive quantities of raw materials in our buildings, cars and smartphones, often without considering that they are finite resources or thinking about the consequences of mining them. Germany depends on imports for its supply of metals and fossil fuels. However, resource extraction and use have numerous adverse impacts on people and the environment – from inadequate health and safety standards for workers in many of the producing countries to deforestation and the pollution or even poisoning of soil and water.

The Oeko-Institut is working towards a complete transformation of the way we use resources. The aim is the sustainable extraction, use and recycling of raw materials. This includes phasing out the use of resources that cannot be recycled. Recycling has a key role to play in reducing consumption and conserving resources: in a genuine circular (closed loop) economy, end-of-life (EOL) products are treated not as waste but as resources. The anthropogenic material stock – the pool of raw materials created by human activity – is another potential source of secondary raw materials that must be utilised. Experts at the Oeko-Institut are also working on European waste and resource policy and on international mining.



  • Urban mining – a future source of raw materials

    Urban mining – a future source of raw materials

    Image 09/29/2022
    This figure traces the growth of the various metals in the anthropogenic metals stock – which is created by human activity – to 2040.
  • The anthropogenic metals stock is growing

    The anthropogenic metals stock is growing

    Image 09/29/2022
    This figure illustrates the anthropogenic metals stock. It is fed by nine sectors: technical goods in building construction, mobile goods in buildings (excluding electrical appliances), mobile goods in buildings (electrical appliances), power generation plants, power grids, vehicles, transport infrastructure, industrial plants, and machines.
  • Civilisation’s gold – the potential of urban mining

    Civilisation’s gold – the potential of urban mining

    Image 09/29/2022
    This figure explains the urban mining cycle: the anthropogenic material stock – created by human activity – is the source of raw materials for future use.