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Resource Efficiency
Resource efficiency is the maximising of the supply of money, materials, staff, and other assets that can be drawn on by a person or organization in order to function effectively, with minimum wasted (natural) resource expenses. It means using the Earth's limited resources in a sustainable manner while minimising environmental impact. Motivation A 2014 report by The Carbon Trust suggested that resource challenges are intensifying rapidly – for example, there could be a 40% gap between available water supplies and water needs by 2030, and some critical materials could be in short supply as soon as 2016. These challenges could lead to disruptions to supply, growing regulatory requirements, volatile fluctuation of prices, and may ultimately threaten the viability of existing business models. Related concepts Resource efficiency measures, methods, and aims are quite similar to those of resource productivity/ resource intensity and of the slightly more environment-inclined concept ...
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Waste
Waste (or wastes) are unwanted or unusable materials. Waste is any substance discarded after primary use, or is worthless, defective and of no use. A by-product, by contrast is a joint product of relatively minor economic value. A waste product may become a by-product, joint product or resource through an invention that raises a waste product's value above zero. Examples include municipal solid waste (household trash/refuse), hazardous waste, wastewater (such as sewage, which contains bodily wastes ( feces and urine) and surface runoff), radioactive waste, and others. Definitions What constitutes waste depends on the eye of the beholder; one person's waste can be a resource for another person. Though waste is a physical object, its generation is a physical and psychological process. The definitions used by various agencies are as below. United Nations Environment Program According to the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous ...
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Biomimetics
Biomimetics or biomimicry is the emulation of the models, systems, and elements of nature for the purpose of solving complex human problems. The terms "biomimetics" and "biomimicry" are derived from grc, βίος (''bios''), life, and μίμησις ('' mīmēsis''), imitation, from μιμεῖσθαι (''mīmeisthai''), to imitate, from μῖμος (''mimos''), actor. A closely related field is bionics. Living organisms have evolved well-adapted structures and materials over geological time through natural selection. Biomimetics has given rise to new technologies inspired by biological solutions at macro and nanoscales. Humans have looked at nature for answers to problems throughout their existence. Nature has solved engineering problems such as self-healing abilities, environmental exposure tolerance and resistance, hydrophobicity, self-assembly, and harnessing solar energy. History One of the early examples of biomimicry was the study of birds to enable human flight. Al ...
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Sustainable Consumption
Sustainable consumption (sometimes abbreviated to "SC") is the use of products and services in ways that minimize impacts on the environment in order for human needs to be met in the present but also for future generations. Sustainable consumption is often paralleled with sustainable production; consumption refers to use and disposal (or recycling) not just by individuals and households, but also by governments, businesses, and other organizations. Sustainable consumption is closely related to sustainable products, sustainable production and sustainable living, sustainable lifestyles. "A sustainable lifestyle minimizes Ecology, ecological impacts while enabling a flourishing life for individuals, households, communities, and beyond. It is the product of individual and collective decisions about aspirations and about satisfying needs and adopting practices, which are in turn conditioned, facilitated, and constrained by societal norms, political institutions, public policies, Infrastr ...
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UNEP
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is responsible for coordinating responses to environmental issues within the United Nations system. It was established by Maurice Strong, its first director, after the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm in June 1972. Its mandate is to provide leadership, deliver science and develop solutions on a wide range of issues, including climate change, the management of marine and terrestrial ecosystems, and green economic development. The organization also develops international environmental agreements; publishes and promotes environmental science and helps national governments achieve environmental targets. As a member of the United Nations Development Group, UNEP aims to help the world meet the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. UNEP hosts the secretariats of several multilateral environmental agreements and research bodies, including The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), The Minamata Convention on ...
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Household Consumption
Consumption is the act of using resources to satisfy current needs and wants. It is seen in contrast to investing, which is spending for acquisition of ''future'' income. Consumption is a major concept in economics and is also studied in many other social sciences. Different schools of economists define consumption differently. According to mainstream economists, only the final purchase of newly produced goods and services by individuals for immediate use constitutes consumption, while other types of expenditure — in particular, fixed investment, intermediate consumption, and government spending — are placed in separate categories (see consumer choice). Other economists define consumption much more broadly, as the aggregate of all economic activity that does not entail the design, production and marketing of goods and services (e.g. the selection, adoption, use, disposal and recycling of goods and services). Economists are particularly interested in the relationship betwe ...
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Waste & Resources Action Programme
WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme) is a British registered charity. It works with businesses, individuals and communities to achieve a circular economy, by helping them reduce waste, develop sustainable products and use resources in an efficient way. WRAP was established in 2000 as a company limited by guarantee and receives funding from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Northern Ireland Executive, Zero Waste Scotland, the Welsh Government and the European Union. WRAP developed the "Recycle Now", "Love Food, Hate Waste" and "Love your Clothes" initiatives. These aim to help businesses, local authorities, community groups and individuals recycle and reuse more, and reduce food waste. Over recent years it has also brokered a number of voluntary agreements with business including: *The construction sector – with more than 700 companies succeeding in halving their waste to landfill by 2012 *The retail sector – through the Courtauld Commitment ...
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Material Flow Accounting
Material flow accounting (MFA) is the study of material flows on a national or regional scale. It is therefore sometimes also referred to as regional, national or economy-wide material flow analysis. Introduction Material flow accounting provides economy-wide data on material use. Through international standardization, this data has become reliable and comparable across countries. Increasingly, the data are also being made available in medium- to long-term time series allowing for the analysis of past trends as well as potential future developments. Material flow accounts provide information on the material inputs into, the changes in material stock within, and the material outputs in the form of exports to other economies or discharges to the environment of an economy. Material flow accounting can be used in national planning, especially for scarce resources, and also allows for forecasting. The method can be used to assess environmental burdens associated with the economic activit ...
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Water Footprint
A water footprint shows the extent of water use in relation to consumption by people. The water footprint of an individual, community, or business is defined as the total volume of fresh water used to produce the goods and services consumed by the individual or community or produced by the business. Water use is measured in water volume consumed ( evaporated) and/or polluted per unit of time. A water footprint can be calculated for any well-defined group of consumers (e.g., an individual, family, village, city, province, state, or nation) or producers (e.g., a public organization, private enterprise, or economic sector), for a single process (such as growing rice) or for any product or service. Traditionally, water use has been approached from the production side, by quantifying the following three columns of water use: water withdrawals in the agricultural, industrial, and domestic sector. While this does provide valuable data, it is a limited way of looking at water use ...
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Carbon Footprint
A carbon footprint is the total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions caused by an individual, event, organization, service, place or product, expressed as carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e). Greenhouse gases, including the carbon-containing gases carbon dioxide and methane, can be emitted through the burning of fossil fuels, land clearance, and the production and consumption of food, manufactured goods, materials, wood, roads, buildings, transportation and other services. In most cases, the total carbon footprint cannot be calculated exactly because of inadequate knowledge of data about the complex interactions between contributing processes, including the influence of natural processes that store or release carbon dioxide. For this reason, Wright, Kemp, and Williams proposed the following definition of a carbon footprint: The Greenhouse Gas Protocol has extended the range of gases. The global average annual carbon footprint per person in 2014 was about 5 tonnes CO2e. Although the ...
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Ecosystem
An ecosystem (or ecological system) consists of all the organisms and the physical environment with which they interact. These biotic and abiotic components are linked together through nutrient cycles and energy flows. Energy enters the system through photosynthesis and is incorporated into plant tissue. By feeding on plants and on one another, animals play an important role in the movement of matter and energy through the system. They also influence the quantity of plant and microbial biomass present. By breaking down dead organic matter, decomposers release carbon back to the atmosphere and facilitate nutrient cycling by converting nutrients stored in dead biomass back to a form that can be readily used by plants and microbes. Ecosystems are controlled by external and internal factors. External factors such as climate, parent material which forms the soil and topography, control the overall structure of an ecosystem but are not themselves influenced by the ecosys ...
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Carrying Capacity
The carrying capacity of an environment is the maximum population size of a biological species that can be sustained by that specific environment, given the food, habitat, water, and other resources available. The carrying capacity is defined as the environment's maximal load, which in population ecology corresponds to the population equilibrium, when the number of deaths in a population equals the number of births (as well as immigration and emigration). The effect of carrying capacity on population dynamics is modelled with a logistic function. Carrying capacity is applied to the maximum population an environment can support in ecology, agriculture and fisheries. The term carrying capacity has been applied to a few different processes in the past before finally being applied to population limits in the 1950s. The notion of carrying capacity for humans is covered by the notion of sustainable population. At the global scale, scientific data indicates that humans are living bey ...
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