Edited by Lucia A. Reisch and John Thøgersen
Chapter 9: Priorities for sustainable consumption policies
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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