Indicator: Total raw material productivity

A graph shows the total raw material productivity plus the primary raw material inputs and the sum of gross domestic product and the value imports from 2010 to 2021 (2010 = 100). Click to enlarge
Total raw material productivity
Source: Federal Statistical Office of Germany Figure as PDF

Table of Contents


At a glance

  • The total raw material productivity grew by 15 % between 2010 and 2021.
  • According to the German government, an average growth of 1.6 % of total raw material productivity must be achieved between 2010 and 2030.
  • With annual growth averaging around 1.3 %, the current development is below this target.
  • Total raw material productivity is a measure of the efficiency of raw material use and also includes raw materials that were needed to produce imported goods.

Environmental importance

Primary raw materials are obtained mainly from mining but also in forestry and agriculture. Some of these economic activities have huge environmental impacts. An aim of environmental policy is therefore to ensure that the national economy uses raw materials as efficiently as possible. In order to measure this development, the indicator 'Total raw material productivity' relates economic activity to the utilisation of raw materials.

However, Germany imports and exports mainly processed goods and finished products. The indicator 'Primary raw material inputs' reflects the extent to which primary raw materials are actually used. It is based on raw material equivalents. It therefore includes the total weight of primary raw materials which were required to produce the goods made in Germany or imported to Germany.


Assessing the development

Total raw material productivity in Germany increased by 15% between 2000 and 2021. The main reason for this was the development of the gross domestic product (GDP) and import values. These increased almost continuously in the period under review. The use of primary raw materials showed a significantly lower increase in the same period and even fell slightly several times, most recently in the years from 2018 to 2020. It should be noted that 2020 was an exceptional year, as demand and the associated supply chains were affected worldwide due to the COVID-19 pandemic, among other things.

In the new edition of the German Sustainability Strategy of 2016, the German Government has set a new goal for the further growth of raw material productivity: Between 2010 and 2030, the value is expected to increase by an average of roughly 1.6 % per year, which was the average annual increase between 2000 and 2010 (BReg 2016). However, growth from 2010 to 2021 was only about 1.3 % per year, a rate currently below the target path of the sustainability strategy.

In the German Resource Efficiency Programme III (ProgRess III) records a large number of measures for the years from 2020 onwards to increase the productivity of raw materials (BMU 2020). As new topics, resource-efficient mobility and the potentials and risks of digitalization for resource efficiency are now being considered in ProgRess III. The German government is also currently developing a National Circular Economy Strategy (NKWS), which will bring together targets and measures for circular economy and resource conservation from all relevant strategies.



The total raw material productivity results from the ratio of two variables: The numerator is formed from the sum of gross domestic product and the monetary value of German imports. This figure is prepared by the national accounts of the Federal Statistical Office of Germany. The denominator contains the information on the primary raw material input in Germany from production and imports in tonnes. Both variables are presented as an index (2010=100). The process for determining the indirect imports (‘raw material equivalents’) is described in a research report (UBA 2016, in German only).

Due to methodological adjustments by the Federal Statistical Office, the time series from 2010 onwards differ from previously published figures. Noticeable changes occur in particular in the raw material group of ores. For more detailed explanations, please refer to the Statistischen Bericht "Rohstoffäquivalente - Berichtszeitraum 2000-2021" (Destatis 2023, in German only).  To calculate the index values on which this indicator is based, the Federal Statistical Office uses more precise data than those published there. The results are published in the table ‘Total raw material productivity and its components, index 2010 = 100’ (Destatis 2024, in German only).