Because sustainable development is an underlying objective of the EU treaties, it is necessary to monitor progress to effectively steer the bloc's action and policies, the JRC notes, adding that so far, Europe has lacked the necessary tools to achieve such an ambitious goal.
The JRC's Institute for Environment and Sustainability (IES), which leads the European Platform on Life-Cycle Assessment, has developed three sets of indicators on resources, products and waste, which it hopes will serve the implementation of modern lifecycle-based environmental policies, like the EU's Sustainable Consumption and Production Action Plan.
A public consultation about this new draft framework, its methodology, data basis and updating procedures is open until 30 September.
The resource-efficiency indicators measure the environmental impact of the EU and each member state in relation to resources used, including data on imported and exported products.
The eco-efficiency indicator monitors de-coupling of the overall environmental impact linked to apparent consumption and related use of natural resources from economic growth.
The resource productivity indicator measures productivity progress in the use of natural resources, such as GDP in euro per kilo of iron extracted or cubic metre of water consumed.
The resource-specific impacts indicator evaluates how negative environmental impacts have been de-coupled from resource use over time.
Basket of products
Basket-of-products indicators reflect environmental impacts such as climate change or eutrophication, and resource-use linked to the final domestic consumption of an average EU citizen over the entire life cycle of goods and services including nutrition, shelter, consumer goods and mobility.
According to the IES, the indicators can be used to monitor the environmental impacts of relevant goods and services consumed by EU citizens as well as the transition towards more sustainable consumption behaviour.
They can also help assess the impact of policy measures with regard to more environmentally sound goods and services, the IES adds.
Waste management indicators cover the entire waste management chain from collection to treatment and include recycling, recovery and final deposition of any remaining waste.
The indicators are designed to help the EU monitor how technological progress and changes in the amount of waste result in reduced environmental impacts. They will also highlight material and energy resources saved via better waste management.