GNF - Sustainable resource consumption in the automobile sector

Sustainability in the Automobile Sector



Due to small or non-existing own mineral resources, Germany and other European countries are highly dependent on import of numerous raw materials for the car industry. Due to higher demand in raw materials, according to relevant prognoses, in future, supplies of materials such as copper, silver, tin, germanium will become increasingly scarce and much more expensive as exploitation costs will also increase.


In many development areas, metal or otherwise, there are serious ecological and social problems that are often accompanied by violent conflicts. There are fears that these problems will become more severe if resource exploitation will be fostered in areas which are particularly sensitive from an environmental and social point of view.


At the same time various rules, initiatives and certification schemes are created to increase the transparency and traceability of metal resources and reduce social and ecological impacts. 

Project Objectives

The objective of this project is to incentivise the further development of the standards for sustainable resource exploitation and transparent supply chains in the automotive sector and to increase the resource efficiency in the automobile production. Additionally, end consumers should also be sensitised to the social and ecological impacts of resource exploitation thus the proportion of “more sustainable” and certified raw materials used in the automobile production should be increased. We aim to transfer existing approaches and experiences from the electronic industry to the German automotive sector and make this topic accessible to the general public.


The entire automobile industry sector should as an important consumer of metal resources contribute to use resources more efficiently, reduce the socio-ecological impacts of resource consumption and promote a more sustainable development in the countries of origin.

Project Activities

We intend to inform decision makers and representatives from the automotive sector on environmental and social standards regarding mining projects by means of publications, lectures and conferences and initiate a dialogue on the further development of existing standards and increase in resource efficiency. 


Our aim is to involve NGOs and other civil society organisations to act as multipliers. We will provide comprehensive information enabling them to take part in the public and political discussion on resource exploitation, resource efficiency, ecosystem protection and sustainable development.


This project is financed through the proceeds from the stamp “For Environmental Protection” (concerning “Resources Protection”) that was created under the banner "Waste is a Resource” and made possible by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB) and the German Federal Environment Agency (UBA).

 Raw material production in open-cast mining

Photo: © Storm Crypt -

 Raw material production in an adit

Photo: © Phill.D -


Project partners


 Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB) as well as Federal Environmental Agency (UBA)

Official Project Titel:




Project Duration: 


Project Partners:




Sustainable raw material exploitation and resource efficiency through sustainable resource consumption in the automobile sector in Germany


November 2012 – March 2014


SÜDWIND (Coordinator), Collaborating Centre on Sustainable Consumption and Production (CSCP)


German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB), German Federal Environmental Agency (UBA)