Factor X

“Factor X” stands for an intelligent, efficient and environmentally friendly use of natural resources (raw materials, water, land). Generating more welfare with less nature is possible. Increasing resource efficiency by a factor of X is a core element of sustainable, future-proof development.

Environmentally friendly use of natural resources

The increasingly intensive use of natural resources by humans is leading to ecosystems being burdened beyond their limits and to the aggravation of global environmental problems. Global abstraction of raw materials has doubled over the last 30 years, to around 70 billion tons per year. This use already clearly exceeds the Earth’s regeneration capacity and therefore jeopardizes the development potential of future generations.

The idea behind Factor X

The use of natural resources must become “x times” more intelligent and efficient. X times more use could be made and therefore x times more wealth be generated from a ton of raw material. Whether by a factor of 4 (= 75 percent increase), 10 (90 percent) or more – resource efficiency must be drastically increased. The name “Factor X” implies that huge resource efficiency potential exists in many areas of production and consumption which so far has largely remained untapped and is in some cases not yet sufficiently known. In order to achieve a goal like Factor X, scientists, economists, politicians, product designers, consumers and the service sector must work together with creativity and dedication. The economy must become more efficient in its use of resources, and the supply of and demand for resource-efficient products and services must increase.

Intelligent, efficient and eco-friendly use of natural resources

The preservation and sustainable use of natural resources (raw materials, water, land) has been a priority issue for the Federal Environment Agency for many years. The goal is to reduce global resource consumption in absolute terms. The German government’s sustainable development strategy envisages raw materials productivity to double by 2020 compared to the 1994 reference. The Federal Cabinet therefore adopted, on 29 February 2012, the German Resource Efficiency Programme (ProgRess), making Germany one of the first European countries to have developed a comprehensive strategy aimed at increasing resource efficiency.

The Factor X concept

The term “Factor X” goes back to the “Factor 10” concept developed by Friedrich Schmidt-Bleek. As far back as the early 1990s, Schmidt-Bleek postulated that if sustainable development is to be achieved globally, for all of humankind, industrialized countries must reduce their consumption of resources by a factor of 10, or 90 percent, within 50 years. In 1995, Ernst-Ulrich von Weizsäcker stated that a factor of 4 can double wealth and halve resource consumption, and in 2010, von Weizsäcker formulated a factor of 5.

Short film: FLOW – Shaping the future

FLOW, a ten-minute film (playable below) produced by sustainable design centre on behalf of the Federal Environment Agency as part of the “Factor X: Beyond Climate Change” campaign, explores the issue of wastage of our natural resources. It reflects our consumption-oriented lifestyle through impressive imagery and illustrates how global material flows are linked. Facts and figures caution viewers to act responsibly without discouraging them. The film ends with the camera moving through the town of tomorrow with many examples of sustainable approaches.

Literature

•Michael Angrick, Andreas Burger, Harry Lehmann: Factor X. Re-source – Designing the Recycling Society. Eco-efficiency in Industry and Science (30), Springer, 2013.
•Michael Angrick, Andreas Burger, Harry Lehmann: Policy, Strategies and Instruments for a Sustainable Resource Use. Eco-efficiency in Industry and Science (29), Springer, 2014.
•Friedrich Schmidt-Bleek: Wie viel Umwelt braucht der Mensch? MIPS - Das Maß für ökologisches Wirtschaften, Birkhäuser, 1993.
•Friedrich Schmidt-Bleek (mit Willy Bierter): Das MIPS Konzept. Weniger Naturverbrauch – mehr Lebensqualität durch den Faktor 10. , Droemer, 1998.
•Ernst-Ulrich von Weizsäcker et al.: Faktor vier. Doppelter Wohlstand – halbierter Naturverbrauch, Droemer Knaur, 1995.
•Ernst-Ulrich von Weizsäcker et al.: Faktor fünf. Die Formel für nachhaltiges Wachstum, Droemer, 2010.

Source: sustainable design center

Short film "Beyond Climate Change – Flow"

Source: Umweltbundesamt

Short film "Beyond Climate Change – Flow" - Short version German

Source: Umweltbundesamt

Short film "Beyond Climate Change – Flow" - Short version English

Source: Umweltbundesamt

Short film "Beyond Climate Change – Flow" - Short version French

Source: Umweltbundesamt

Short film "Beyond Climate Change – Flow" - Short version Russian

Source: Umweltbundesamt

Short film "Beyond Climate Change – Flow" - Short version Chinese