Global Material Resources Outlook to 2060

Economic Drivers and Environmental Consequences

image of Global Material Resources Outlook to 2060

This report presents global projections of materials use and their environmental consequences, providing a quantitative outlook to 2060 at the global, sectoral and regional levels for 61 different materials (biomass resources, fossil fuels, metals and non-metallic minerals). It explains the economic drivers determining the decoupling of economic growth and materials use, and assesses how the projected shifts in sectoral and regional economic activity influence the use of different materials. The projections include both primary and secondary materials, which provides a deeper understanding of what drives the synergies and trade-offs between extraction and recycling.

The report projects a doubling of global primary materials use between today and 2060. Population and converging per capita income growth drive the growth in materials use. However, structural change, especially in non-OECD countries, and technology improvements partially dampen that growth. Metals and non-metallic minerals are projected to grow more rapidly than other types of materials.



Projections of the economic drivers of materials use

This chapter explains how the projected changes in economic activities drive the use of primary materials and secondary materials. This chapter first explains how economic growth drives investment in physical capital, and thus the demand for construction materials. Then, it shows how changes in demand patterns, and in particular the growing share of services in the economy, can slow down materials use. Next, this chapter shows how changes in production processes and technologies affect materials intensity. This chapter also addresses the issue of the saturation of demand for materials, focusing on a potential saturation of the demand for construction materials in China.


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