Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
The UN explains:
Sustainable consumption and production is about promoting resource and energy efficiency, sustainable infrastructure, and providing access to basic services, green and decent jobs and a better quality of life for all. Its implementation helps to achieve overall development plans, reduce future economic, environmental and social costs, strengthen economic competitiveness and reduce poverty.
The UN has defined 11 Targets and 13 Indicators for SDG 12. Targets specify the goals and Indicators represent the metrics by which the world aims to track whether these Targets are achieved.
Goal 12: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
12.1: Implement the 10-Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production Patterns, all countries taking action, with developed countries taking the lead, taking into account the development and capabilities of developing countries
12.2: By 2030, achieve the sustainable management and efficient use of natural resources
12.3: By 2030, halve per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer levels and reduce food losses along production and supply chains, including post-harvest losses
12.4: By 2020, achieve the environmentally sound management of chemicals and all wastes throughout their life cycle, in accordance with agreed international frameworks, and significantly reduce their release to air, water and soil in order to minimize their adverse impacts on human health and the environment
12.5: By 2030, substantially reduce waste generation through prevention, reduction, recycling and reuse
12.6: Encourage companies, especially large and transnational companies, to adopt sustainable practices and to integrate sustainability information into their reporting cycle
12.7: Promote public procurement practices that are sustainable, in accordance with national policies and priorities
12.8: By 2030, ensure that people everywhere have the relevant information and awareness for sustainable development and lifestyles in harmony with nature
12.a: Support developing countries to strengthen their scientific and technological capacity to move towards more sustainable patterns of consumption and production
12.b: Develop and implement tools to monitor sustainable development impacts for sustainable tourism that creates jobs and promotes local culture and products
12.c: Rationalize inefficient fossil-fuel subsidies that encourage wasteful consumption by removing market distortions, in accordance with national circumstances, including by restructuring taxation and phasing out those harmful subsidies, where they exist, to reflect their environmental impacts, taking fully into account the specific needs and conditions of developing countries and minimizing the possible adverse impacts on their development in a manner that protects the poor and the affected communities
A rising population, urbanisation and, overwhelmingly, economic growth, are driving an ever increasing demand for natural resources: energy, soil, water and minerals. But if current consumption trends continue, natural resources could be rapidly depleted.
Increased consumption is driving an increase in waste e.g. discarded materials from municipal, electrical and electronic, to industrial and agricultural waste which in turn feeds an increase in disposal costs and environmental / health impacts. Waste incineration raises concerns about air pollution, while landfill sites leak methane – a potent greenhouse gas which exacerbates climate change.
In addition, massive quantities of food are wasted – one third of all the food produced in the world for human consumption gets lost or wasted every year. And, e-waste (mobile phones and tablets) is one of the fastest growing waste streams leaving a toxic legacy of heavy metals and chemicals.
What can business do? Check what you are doing to manage scarce resources. Set and meet targets to reduce energy and resource intensity in production and use. Assess the waste disposal of your company. Reduce the need for new resources and waste disposal by extending product life, repairing, reusing, re-manufacturing and recycling products. Adopt circular economy principles.