Handbook of Research on Sustainable Consumption
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Handbook of Research on Sustainable Consumption

Edited by Lucia A. Reisch and John Thøgersen

This Handbook compiles the state of the art of current research on sustainable consumption from the world’s leading experts in the field. The implementation of sustainable consumption presents one of the greatest challenges and opportunities we are faced with today. On the one hand, consumption is a wanted and necessary phenomenon important for society and the economy. On the other, our means of consumption contradicts many important ecological and social long-term goals. Set against this background, the Handbook aims to offer an interdisciplinary overview of recent research on sustainable consumption, to draw attention to this subject and to encourage discussion and debate. In 27 chapters, leading authorities in the field provide their expertise in a concise and accessible manner.
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Chapter 9: Priorities for sustainable consumption policies

Arnold Tukker


Environmental effects of economic activities are ultimately driven by consumption by households and governments. First, almost all consumption activities have direct environmental impacts. Obvious examples are the emissions from the use of fossil fuels to heat our homes and drive our cars. But, second, consumption activities also have important indirect effects. Cooking food may cause direct emissions if a gas stove is used, but in addition this food obviously is part of a product life cycle that ranges from agricultural production, the production of auxiliary inputs such as fertilizers for agriculture, usually processing and packaging of the food in the food industry, and storage and transportation until it reaches the final consumer. For food, the emissions and resources used in this supply chain are much more important than the emissions and impacts caused during the use phase. There are obviously such impacts in the supply chain for all products for final consumption. And next to this, after their useful life, waste products are subject to transport, storage and treatment, again causing impacts. In the box labelled ‘Society’s economic system’, Figure 9.1 gives a simplified representation of this production– consumption chain.

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