Sustainable Consumption and Production

The Sustainable Consumption and Production Topic Area (SCP TA) focuses on the interactions between our social, economic and political systems and the physical environment.

The topic area’s work is carried out in the context of gradually increasing efforts on the part of governments and a wide range of other stakeholders towards implementing the ideal of sustainable development in practice. Sustainable consumption and production (SCP) is understood both as a novel and emerging policy area and/or practical implementation strategy, and as a vision of a sustainable economy and society.

  • Team
  • Activities
  • Selected projects

The concept of SCP was first introduced in Agenda 21, the main policy document to emerge from the Rio Earth Summit. Its most important principles include:

  • Life-cycle thinking and systems approach. Environmental pressures caused by a particular production-consumption system are to be considered holistically rather than in isolation, taking into consideration all life-cycle stages of a product as well as social and economic issues.
  • Getting the price right and using a variety of policy instruments. In order to tackle contemporary environmental and social issues, an economic framework must be created that ensures the prevalence of green(er) products and services and, at the same time, a variety of environmental policy tools (e.g. legislation and voluntary agreement) must be used.
  • Improvements in eco-efficiency are important, but not sufficient to achieve sustainability.

Contemporary lifestyles and the resulting consumption patterns must be addressed, current levels of consumption must be reduced, and/or new ways must be found to satisfy societal needs.

  • Stakeholder involvement. Consensus among stakeholders, primarily policy makers (the government sector), the business community and representatives of civil society on how to achieve SCP is a prerequisite of efficient and effective practical action.

Globally, the political framework for action on SCP is based on the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation agreed at the 2002 United Nations World Summit for Sustainable Development and the Marrakech Process launched in 2003.

In the European Union, both the European Commission and member states promote SCP in various ways, including the preparation and implementation of broad strategic frameworks (e.g. national sustainable development strategies and relevant action plans) and the design and implementation of individual policy instruments, each aimed at tackling a specific issue (e.g. specific market-based instruments).

Activities under this topic area are divided into four main areas of work:

  • Sustainable consumption – Activities carried out in the broader field of transition towards sustainable consumption, in both the private and public sectors. Areas and tools used include market-based instruments (MBIs); the provision of environmental information (e.g. environmental labelling schemes); and the promotion of new lifestyles and related behavioural change. In the public sector, the focus is on green/sustainable public procurement (GPP/SPP).
  • Sustainable production and new models of satisfying societal needs – Activities in the broad field of sustainability management in enterprises, focusing particularly on eco-design, cleaner production, life-cycle assessment (LCA), environmental technologies and other eco-innovations, and on the implementation of relevant parts of the EU environmental acquis.
  • SCP integrated assessments – Multi-disciplinary studies in the subject, for example socio-economic studies to support SCP policy making, ex-post and ex-ante policy analyses from the SCP perspective etc.
  • Facilitation of stakeholder dialogue, awareness raising, capacity building and education – Stakeholder meetings, courses, dissemination of information etc. in cooperation with other relevant topic areas.

The SCP TA’s work mainly comprises practical support to all stakeholders, but mainly to policy makers, in the planning and implementation of policies and other actions aimed at achieving SCP. In terms of thematic environmental areas we focus primarily on resources and waste management; and in terms of implementation strategies, we focus on integrated product policy (IPP).

We have worked extensively in support of the implementation of various relevant EU policies, including the renewed EU Sustainable Development Strategy, the Commission’s Communication on Integrated Product Policy, the Environmental Technologies Action Plan of the EU, the thematic strategies of the EU on the sustainable use of natural resources and theprevention and recycling of waste as well as the Commission’s Communication on Green Public Procurement and the Sustainable Consumption and Production and Sustainable Industrial Policy (SCP/SIP) Action Plan of the EU etc.

We work for a wide range of clients, including individual governments or funds as well as the European Commission and the European Environment Agency. Our projects are usually implemented in partnership with a wide range of other partner organisations.

As members of the international consortium managing the European Topic Centre on Sustainable Consumption and Production, a substantial amount of our work capacity is dedicated to projects for which the client is the European Environment Agency.

Our team includes a range of professionals with backgrounds in the natural, social and life sciences, as well as environmental law. Most of our experts have between five and 10 years of relevant working experience, and some as much as several decades.

Core team

  • Jozsef Szlezak, Senior Expert, Sustainable Consumption and Production
  • Ana Popovic, Expert, Waste Management
  • Tamas Kallay, Project Manager, Sustainable Consumption and Production

Key contributing experts in the REC Head Office and the REC country offices

  • Eva Csobod, Director of Country Office Hungary
  • Peter Szuppinger, Project Manager, Country Office Hungary
  • Ruslan Zhechkov, Senior Expert, Environmental Financing
  • Miriam Markus-Johansson, Project Manager, Law/Enforcement and Compliance
  • Kerem Okumus, Senior Project Manager, Country Office Turkey
  • Gonul Erturer, Senior Project Manager, Country Office Turkey
  • Ana Petrovska, Project Manager, Country Office the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
  • Anne Kivinukk, Director of Country Office Estonia

For more information about our team and our work, please contact us at:

  • Changing Lifestyles, Attitudes and Behaviour (ChangeLAB )
  • Civil Society Platform on Sustainable Consumption and Production
  • Conference on EU Environmental Legislation and Policies Applicable to Projects Co-financed by Community Funds
  • Support to the European Environment Agency European Topic Centre on Sustainable Consumption and Production
  • Development of a Forecasting Framework and Scenarios to Support the EU Sustainable Development Strategy (FORESCENE)
  • Towards Zero Waste in Industrial Networks (ZeroWIN)
  • Preparation of Guidelines on Waste Prevention Programmes according to the Revised Waste Framework Directive

More projects
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