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An Overarching Policy Mix for Fostering Sustainable Consumption and Production

An Overarching Policy Mix for Fostering Sustainable Consumption and Production

Synthesis of Potential Impacts

As part of the DYNAMIX project, three policy reports that synthesised the assessments of three policy mixes (a land use policy mix; a metals and materials use policy mix; and an overarching policy mix) were written in order to support the pathway to absolute decoupling in the EU. These policy mixes were designed to specifically address the use of virgin metals, the use of arable land and freshwater, the input of the nutrients nitrogen and phosphorus and emissions of greenhouse gases.

The  policy mix focused on the reduction of overall resource consumption in the EU and also on reducing the emissions of greenhouse gases and other pollutants. This policy mix included a broad variety of instruments: (1) Labour market reform fostering a shift from consumption to leisure, (2) Step-by-step restriction of advertisement and marketing, (3) Boosting Extended Producer Responsibility schemes, (4) Tax on material use, incineration and landfilling (circular economy tax trio), Price incentives for resource-efficient products through (5) feebates and (6) VAT reductions, (7) Skill enhancement programme and (8) Support for local currencies.

A positive environmental effect was identified, indicating a likely contribution of the mix to achieve the set targets. However, socio-economic impacts, such as possible job losses and increasing compliance costs for business as well as issues on public acceptance might prevent its implementation. The political feasibility appeared challenging. Therefore, suggested revisions for the mix included VAT reductions with a tax on least efficient products in order to offset a rebound effect and to support an information campaign.

The policy brief [pdf, 1.4 MB, English] is available for download.


Hirschnitz-Garbers, Martin (2016): A policy mix for sustainable consumption and production. DYNAMIX Policy Report No. 4. Berlin: Ecologic Institute.

32 pp.
Project ID
Table of Contents

0 Executive summary
1 Unsustainable resource consumption – rationale of the overarching policy mix
1.1. Main drivers of unsustainable consumption
1.2. Intervention points for consumer policy
2 Structure and design of the policy mix – objectives and instrument mix
3 Potential of the overarching policy mix to foster sustainable consumption and production to support decoupling
3.1. Potential environmental impacts
3.2. Potential side-effects of the policy mix
3.3. Consistency and coherence of the policy mix
4 Pointers for revision of the policy mix
5 Outlook and caveats

resource consumption, absolute decoupling, sustainable development, Europe, land use, freshwater use, virgin metals, nutrients, emissions, sustainable consumption, sustainable production, dematerialization, policy brief, assessment.,