Digitisation as an enabler for resource efficiency in companies

It is an essential political goal to further disconnect the use of natural resources from economic development. Both in its sustainability strategy and with the German Resource Efficiency Programme (ProgRess), the German Government is pursuing the goal of increasing resource productivity. In addition to new materials, white biotechnologies and nanotechnologies, progress in increased resource efficiency is expected from information and communication technologies as well as automation technologies.

The aim of this study by Institut der Deutschen Wirtschaft, IW Consult GmbH and WIK-Consult GmbH is to identify opportunities and to foster resource efficiency against the background of current digitisation trends. In the context of a comprehensive stocktaking, hypotheses were drafted and verified qualitatively in workshops and expert interviews. The core of the study is the representative company survey within the framework of the IW Future Panel. Based on those results, starting points, potentials, success stories and first steps on the way to more resource efficiency with digital support are edited in a brochure with recommendations, especially for small and medium-sized enterprises.

The study results show different starting points for politics and business: Previous political efforts must be further expanded and better bundled across ministries. This also applies in particular to the expansion of knowledge transfer through better linking of various publicly funded services.

The basic requirement for advancing digitisation for resource efficiency is a functioning infrastructure. For this, nationwide broadband and 5G expansion, investments in cloud use and the implementation of norms and standards are key. Policymakers should also ensure legal certainty, especially when it comes to securing infrastructure and data use. Data is the central basis for digitisation for resource efficiency. Curricula and training programmes must be more strongly adjusted towards the new digital competences.

Companies are recommended to review their status quo in digitisation and resource efficiency. Here, available information and advisory services can be applied. In addition, companies should not only consider the two topics of digitisation and resource efficiency integrated, but also develop corresponding strategies for their implementation.

The study as well as the brochure with recommendations are available for download in German language.

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