The overuse and waste of valuable natural resourcesis threatening to produce a fresh economic crisis, the European union environment chief has warned.
"It's very difficult to imagine [lifting Europe out of recession] without growth, and very difficult to imagine growth without competitiveness, and very difficult to be competitive without resource efficiency."
Unless consumers and businesses take action to use resources more efficiently - from energy and water to food and waste, and raw materials such as precious metals - then their increasing scarcity, rising prices and today's wasteful methods of using them will drive up costs yet further and reduce Europe's standard of living, Potočnik warned.
He said: "We have simply no choice. We have to use what we have more efficiently, or we will fail to compete. Resource efficiency is a real competitiveness issue for European companies."