Total consumption of natural resources 

Updated: 17.11.2016 - Next update: 17.11.2017

Need for material decreases slowly

In 2015, altogether 277 million tonnes of material was extracted from the soil and vegetation of Finland. Forty-four per cent of this material was used domestically and 15 per cent was exported. The rest, or good one-third, was left unused in nature. In addition, some 54 million tonnes of products and raw materials were imported, which generated an estimated 208 million tonnes in hidden flows for the production countries. All in all, Finns’ material extraction in 2015 amounted to 540 million tonnes. The amount is roughly the same as annual oil production in Russia. Changes compared to 2014 were minor apart from ore extraction, which is on the rise again.

Both in Finland and throughout Europe, national economies try, in the spirit of circular economy, to lower their material intensity or their economy’s dependency on natural resources, or vice versa, to increase the productivity of their natural resources. The dependency of Finland’s national economy on nature is significantly larger than in the EU, on average, the average material productivity in the EU was more than double compared to Finland. Halving of direct natural resource inputs to produce one euro has taken 40 years in Finland. At this rate, we will reach the EU average in four to five decades.

Statistics Finland / Economy-wide material flow accounts

Description of indicator

The accounts comprise data on domestic and foreign material inputs into Finland's economy, on domestic and foreign hidden flows as well as on materials export.

Domestic direct inputs refer to materials extracted from domestic nature for further processing in the economy. Examples of these would be wood and minerals used as raw materials, earth materials used in construction, and plants and wild animals used as food for animals and humans.

Foreign direct inputs comprise imports of processed and raw materials. Correspondingly, exports comprise of raw and processed materials exported abroad.

Domestic hidden flows refer to the transfers and transformations of natural materials that are made in connection with their extraction from nature or with construction. Examples of these would be logging waste left in forests, and wall rock of ore mines. Hidden flows of imports are comprised of the direct inputs and hidden flows which are used abroad to produce imported goods but which do not show in the weight of imported raw materials or products.

The total material requirement calculated from these accounts is the sum of domestic and foreign direct inputs and hidden flows. Direct inputs represent the actual volume of material entering the Finnish economy and, together with domestic hidden flows, the material volume behind the burdening of the domestic environment. The total material requirement of our economy is obtained by adding to this the hidden flows of imports, i.e. the global ecological environmental burdening of our economy.