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Natural Resource and Products Use - UK Material Productivity Increases

Released: 29 June 2011 Download PDF

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Material productivity

UK domestic material consumption and material productivity, Environmental Accounts 2011
Source: Office for National Statistics

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Material productivity

The UK material productivity increased in 2009, compared with 2008, as domestic material consumption fell more than GDP .  The UK’s domestic material consumption – the quantity of natural resources used by the UK economy – decreased by 68.7 million tonnes, the largest fall since records began in 1970, to 566 million tonnes in 2009, compared with 2008.


Domestic material consumption decreased as:

  • consumption for minerals fell by 51.0 million tonnes to 220 million tonnes

  • consumption for fossil fuels fell by 15.4 million tonnes to 208 million tonnes

  • consumption for biomass fell by 2.13 million tonnes to 130 million tonnes


Domestic extraction decreased by 51.4 million tonnes, mainly due to a fall in extraction of crushed stones, and sand and gravel. Exports decreased by 4.1 million tonnes, while imports decreased by 3.6 million tonnes. 

Fossil fuels

Domestic extraction decreased by 13.7 million tonnes, mainly due to a fall in extraction of natural gas, and crude oil. Imports decreased by 3.7 million tonnes and exports decreased by 2.0 million tonnes. 


Imports decreased by 2.9 million tonnes and exports decreased by 1.4 million tonnes, whereas domestic extraction remained unchanged.


Much of the period from 1990 to 2007 had seen strong economic growth in the UK with increased material productivity. However, material use has fallen in relation to the level of economic activity. This in part reflects the increasing importance of the service industries in the UK economy. Gross domestic product overall decreased in 2009 and material use fell. The fall in demand mainly for primary aggregates – crushed stones, and sand and gravel - coincided with the contraction in output of the construction industry in 2009.


Source: Office for National Statistics

Background notes

  1. The concept of material productivity is used to assess progress towards sustainable development. It is presented in terms of the relationship between material use and economic activity, calculated by dividing Gross Domestic Product in real terms by Domestic Material Consumption ( DMC).



  2. Domestic material consumption = domestic extraction + imports – exports
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    These National Statistics are produced to high professional standards and released according to the arrangements approved by the UK Statistics Authority.

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