SD Features
Sustainability Concepts
Factor 10
A. Definition

Factor 10 states that over the next 30 to 50 years (one generation) a decrease in energy use and material flows by a factor of 10 and an increase in resource productivity/efficiency by a factor of 10 is required to achieve dematerialisation. That is, to attain sustainability and environmental protection we need to reduce resource turn over by 90% on a global scale, within the next 50 years.

B. Main Features

Countries around the globe are consuming resources at an untenable rate, with developed nations consuming more than they should. Schmidt-Bleek et al (1999) note that developed nations account for 20% of the global population yet consume 80% of the world's resources. As such, developed nations are promoting an unsustainable model of development. Consequently, if nations want to ensure they do not exceed the planet's carry capacity and want to provide adequate resources for future generations, a change in resource use and development models are required. The Factor 10 concept can help achieve this.

Based on sustainability, Factor 10 focuses on materials and the input side of the economy. It requires new technologies; policies; services; and manufacturing processes, as well as socio-cultural change to create and do more for longer periods of time with fewer resources.

Factor 10 is a long-term concept and as such, governments or business working to short term plans may have difficulty achieving factor 10 reductions. Since Factor 10 aims to decrease energy and resource use, it helps governments work towards multi-lateral environmental agreements.

Business and governments implementing the Factor 10 concept have used tools such as eco-efficiency, environmental purchasing design for environment, policies and environmental taxes.

C. Organizational Proponent

Friedrich Schmidt-Bleek from the Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy (Germany) first proposed the Factor 10 and dematerialisation concepts in the early 1990s.

D. Case Studies and Examples

1. Household Appliances
Environment Enterprise @ RMIT (Australia) investigated emission and resource use reductions through partial or full replacement of existing household appliances with equipment using best available technology. Behaviour modification was not considered. The study found that technological advancements had reduced material and resource use in appliances by a factor of 1.6 to 3.4, depending on appliance. The study noted that further technological advancements might result in a big jump in eco-efficiency.

2. Transport and Housing
Open University (UK) examined the potential for Factor 10 reductions of environmental impacts for personal transport, housing and higher education over the next 50 years. The study found that some sectors could reduce their environmental impact quicker than others. The study argued that a combination of eco-design, new product services and production and consumption modifications are required to reduce environmental impacts.

3. Factor 10 Strategies
The International Factor 10 Club noted that the Austrian and Norwegian Governments have adopted a Factor 10 strategic goal. The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) has asked businesses to adopt a strategic target of factor 20 for resource productivity increases.

4. Plastic Bags
A tax on plastic bags in Ireland resulted in a factor 10 (90%) reduction in plastic bag usage.

E. Target Sectors / Stakeholders

The main stakeholders of Factor 10 are governments, industry, research institutions, non-government organisations, businesses and industry groups. Consumers and the insurance industry drive Factor 10 through purchasing or insurance policies that require energy and resource efficient products.

Factor 10 clubs and institutes, established either nationally or internationally, utilise a multi-disciplinary approach to promote and bring about the realisation of the Factor 10 concept.

F. Scale of Operation

Although Factor 10 is a global issue, it is predominantly targeted to developed nations. Factor 10 is best implemented at a national level by businesses and governments.

G. Links

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