Production and consumption occur when we transform natural objects (or 'resources') into human biomass, consumable products (or 'goods and services') and waste. During production, we reshape or relocate objects by applying energy to them (either as heat or mechanical force). During consumption, we change these products by taking energy away from them (either directly, through eating or burning, or indirectly, through the wear and tear of use). Waste is an inherent part of the process. Waste energy is lost as heat, and waste materials are lost as gases (e.g. car exhausts), liquids (e.g. sewage) or solid waste (e.g. garbage). In this chapter we look at New Zealand's production and consumption patterns as reflected in our economic activities, our use of energy and our generation of solid waste.
The global scale of resource conversion, especially by the affluent fifth of the world's population, is much greater now than it was a mere century ago (Holway, 1992). New Zealand's pattern of resource conversion is fairly similar to Australia and the affluent societies of the northern hemisphere. In terms of productive land use (i.e. pasture and cropland, timber forests, roads and urban areas), New Zealand uses about 5 hectares of land per person to provide a year's supply of goods and services (see Chapter 8). This is a big 'ecological footprint'. The global average is a bit over 1 hectare per person (World Resources Institute, 1996). If everyone presently alive aspired to our level of 'land affluence' the world would need 28 billion hectares of productive land. That is twice the Earth's land area and about five times the area currently used for production.
The 5-hectare footprint is based solely on productive land use. When other resources are also considered (such as marine fisheries area and additional forest growth needed to absorb our carbon dioxide emissions) New Zealand's footprint becomes larger still-9.8 hectares according to a recent study commissioned by the Rio Summit's Earth Council (Wackernagel et al., 1997). Among the activities that contribute to a society's ecological footprint are its energy use (see below, and also Chapters 5, 6 and 7), its generation of wastes that must be absorbed by land, air or water (see below and Chapters 5, 6, 7 and 8), its use of forest products, such as paper and firewood (see below and Chapter 8), and its use of farm products-particularly animal products (see below and Chapters 7 and 8).
Livestock production contributes greatly to the ecological footprint because large areas of land are required for fodder crops and pasture and large amounts of waste are generated by the animals themselves and the industries that process their products (see Chapters 5, 7, 8 and 9). For example, a cow must eat five plant calories to produce one milk calorie, and 10 plant calories to produce one calorie of beef (Bender, 1997). Societies whose food energy comes mostly from starchy plants rather than livestock have smaller environmental impacts because they only require about a quarter the land area to produce the same number of food calories (Breirem et al., 1989; Cohen, 1996). This has a marked effect on the extent and patterns of land and water use and habitat replacement.
At present about 17 percent of the world's population lives in high-income countries where, on average, animal fat makes up more than 30 percent of the total calorie intake. In contrast, Africans typically derive only 6 percent of their calories from animal products (Bender, 1997). The implications of this for global sustainability are shown in Table 3.1 which gives an estimate of how many people could have survived on the world's 1990 agricultural output if everyone ate, respectively, like North Americans, Europeans, Japanese, Bangladeshis or subsistence horticulturalists. New Zealand would fall between Europe and the United States in this table, based on our high levels of fat consumption (Public Health Commission, 1993).
|Population that could be fed if everyone shared the dietary preferences and food system efficiencies of:|
|the United States||2.3 billion|
|Subsistence only||15 billion|
Source: Bender (1997)
1The actual world population in 1990 was 5.3 billion.
The percentage of animal fats in the New Zealand and North American diet has actually gone down in the past decade but, even so, from a global perspective, the 'New Zealand way of life' is not sustainable. The whole world could not afford to follow our dietary and land use patterns. Given the limitations of not only land area, but also water supply, the typical Western diet could support a maximum of less than 2.5 billion people-less than half the world's current population (Cohen, 1996). Even if the land did exist to provide everyone with butter, milk and meat, utilising all of this space for livestock production would effectively crowd the world's natural ecosystems and wild species out of existence. Whatever its economic sustainability, such a 'standing room only' scenario would not be sustainable environmentally.
New Zealand, then, is in a relatively privileged position compared to most of the world-a fact borne out by other ecological footprint indicators, such as our use of energy and generation of waste. New Zealand's energy use is comparable to that of other developed countries and slightly below the OECD average (see Table 3.2). Combining our household and industrial energy use, the average New Zealander requires daily about 120,000 calories of 'primary' energy (i.e. energy at the point of extraction or importation, prior to conversion losses), to yield some 78,000 calories of 'consumer' energy (i.e. energy in the forms of fuel or electricity). Compare this to our body's basic calorie requirement of about 2,400 calories per day.
Our production of wastes is also comparable to that of other OECD countries (see Table 3.2). Combining total household and industrial waste, the average New Zealander generates about 145,000 litres of sewage each year and nearly 900 kilograms of landfill waste (about 400 kg from households and nearly 500 kg from industry), with an additional 900 or so kilograms of construction and demolition waste going to cleanfills (Ministry for the Environment, 1997).
It is important to note, though, that the gross scale of land use, energy consumption and waste production are only rough guides to a society's environmental impact. The type of resource conversion is also important. If hill land is converted into production forest rather than pasture, flooding, sedimentation and soil erosion decline measurably because trees are more effective than pasture at holding soil and water (see Chapter 7). If energy is harnessed from renewable sources, such as wind or sunlight, rather than from burning fossil fuels, the impacts are much smaller because no waste heat or air pollutants are generated. And if sewage is converted into cleaner water through a treatment process fewer pollutants are discharged (see Chapter 7).
The extent to which we can alter our patterns of production and consumption is partly a matter for society to decide through laws, ethics, fashions and customs, and partly a matter of economic feasiblity. Economic feasibility is heavily constrained by markets (e.g. customer desires), resources (both natural resources and the creative ingredients of human knowledge and labour) and by the legacy of past practices such as the infrastructure, technology and attitudes of the main economic sectors . To understand our current production and consumption patterns, then, it is important to briefly examine the development of New Zealand's economy and its current state.
Table 3.2: Living standards and production and consumption patterns in New Zealand and selected OECD countries.
|Indicator||Unit measured *||Year||New Zealand||Australia||Canada||Japan||Mexico||Norway||Turkey||United Kingdom||United States||All OECD**||World**|
|Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per person 4, 6||Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) in US$||1995||16,851||19,354||21,031||21,795||7,383||22,672||5,691||17,756||26,438||19,410 A||ca 6,000 A|
|Total GDP (measured as expenditure) 4, 6||Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) in billion US$||1995||60||350||623||2,730||673||99||351||1,041||6,956||18,946 T||ca 24,000 T|
|Past economic growth 4||average percentage GDP increase per year||1985-95||1.7||3||2.2||3||1.6||2.6||4.4||2.2||2.5||2.2 M||md|
|Present economic growth 4, 6||percentage GDP increase per year||1995-96||1.2||4.1||1.5||3.6||4||5.1||7.5||2.4||2.4||2.4 M||md|
|Primary sector (farming, forestry, fishing etc) 3, 6||as percentage of GDP||1991-94||7||3||2||2||7||3||16||2||2||3 A||6 A|
|Secondary (manufacturing, building, energy) 3, 6||as percentage of GDP||1991-94||26||28||26||40||29||35||33||28||26||31 A||36 A|
|Tertiary sector (services) 3, 6||as percentage of GDP||1991-94||67||69||72||58||64||62||51||71||72||66 A||58 A|
|International tourism 4||as percentage of GDP||1995||3.9||2||1.4||0.1||2.2||1.6||2.9||1.7||0.9||1.2 A||md|
|Trade dependency 6||exports as percentage of GDP||1993||24||15||30||9||8.8||31||9.8||22||7||14 A||16 A|
|Subsidy equivalents to agriculture 4||as percentage of agricultural production||1996||3||9||22||71||13||71||30||-||16||36 A||md|
|Consumer Prices 4||percentage change over a year||1995-96||2.5||1.5||2.2||0.6||27.7||1.8||79.8||2.5||3.3||4.7 A||md|
|Short-term standardised interest rates 3||percent||1995||8.6||7.4||5.8||0.5||49.2||5.4||98.0||6.5||5.6||md||md|
|Energy and transport|
|Consumer energy 2||tonnes of oil equivalent (TOE) per person||1993||3.1||3.5||5.7||2.5||1.1||4.3||0.8||2.6||5.4||3.2 A||1 A|
|Primary energy 2, 4||tonnes of oil equivalent (TOE) per person||1994-95||4.3||5.2||7.9||4||1.5||5.5||1||3.8||7.9||4.7 A||1.4 A|
| ||percent of primary energy||1995||68||94||74||81||87||53||84||88||86||83 A||85 A|
| ||percent of primary energy||1995||0||0||11||15||2||0||0||10||9||11 A||7 A|
| ||percent of primary energy||1995||32||6||15||4||15||11||16||1||5||6 A||9 A|
|Energy intensity 2, 4||primary energy (TOE) per million US$ GDP||1994-95||310||280||380||160||480||170||350||210||340||250 A||150 A|
|Gross CO2 emissions from energy use 4||tonnes per person||1993-95||8||16||16||9||4||8||2||10||20||11 A||4 A|
|Motor vehicle abundance 2||licensed vehicles per 100 people||1993||55||57||60||51||1||46||6||42||75||50 A||md|
|Motor vehicle use 2||kilometres driven per person per year||1993||7,184||7,986||8,625||5,698||592||5,995||5,211||7,600||14,350||1,345 A||md|
|Consumption patterns and waste|
|Printing and writing paper consumed 6||tonnes per 1,000 people||1992||47.8||43.3||84.9||75.9||8.1||37.9||3.3||56.2||86.6||58.6 A||14.1 A|
|Televisions 6||per 1,000 people||1992||443||482||640||614||149||424||176||435||815||528 A||151 A|
|Mobile cellular phone subscribers 6||per 1,000 people||1992||29||28||35||14||3||65||1||26||43||22 A||md|
|Solid waste generation 2,8||kilograms per person per year||1992-95||400***||400***||660||410||310||510||400||350 ***||730||400 M||md|
|Environment and resource use|
|Land area 5||millions of hectares||1995||27||771||998||38||196||32||78||25||981||3,459 T||13,098 T|
| ||percentage of land area||1991-93||52||60||8||14||52||3||47||72||45||37 A||38 A|
| ||percentage of land area||1991-93||28||19||45||67||26||39||26||10||31||33 A||32 A|
| ||percentage of land in IUCN categories I to V||1994||22||12||8||7||5||17||1||21||13||8 M||7 A|
|Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) 5||marine fishery area in millions of hectares||1995||483||450||294||386||285||203||24||179||971||4,338 T||md|
|Ecological footprint (land and sea area needed hectares per person to supply resources and absorb wastes) 7||hectares per person||1996||9.8||8.1||7||6.3||2.3||5.7||1.9||4.6||8.4||5.7 M||2.3 A|
|Population4||millions of people||1995||3.6||18.1||29.6||125.3||91.1||4.4||61.6||58.6||263.1||976.1 T||5,716.4 T|
|Population density 5||persons per square kilometre (=100 hectares)||1995||13||2||3||332||49||14||81||241||28||28 A||44 A|
|Urban population 5||as percentage of total population||1995||86||85||77||78||75||73||69||89||76||77 A||45 A|
|Household size 1||average number of persons per household||latest ****||2.9||3||2.7||3||5.1||2.2||4.5||2.7||2.6||2.9 A||md|
|Human development ranking 6||rank in UNDP Human Development Index (HDI)||1993||14||11||1||3||48||5||84||16||2||na||na|
|Health and health services|
|Infant mortality 4||per 10,000 live births||1994-95||72||57||63||43||170||40||468||62||80||60 M||630 A|
|Maternal mortality 6||per 100,000 live births||1993||25||9||6||18||110||6||180||9||12||33 A||307 A|
|Male life expectancy 4, 6||probable longevity at birth||1995||74||75||75||76||70||75||65||74||73||73 A||61 A|
|Female life expectancy 4, 6||probable longevity at birth||1995||79||81||81||83||76||81||70||80||79||80 A||65 A|
|Deaths from heart disease (males) 6||per 1,000 males aged over 65||1990-93||35||34||md||21||md||34||md||md||md||31 A||md|
|Deaths from heart disease (females) 6||per 1,000 females aged over 65||1990-93||34||37||md||26||md||31||md||md||md||30 A||md|
|Cancer deaths (males) 6||per 1,000 males aged over 65||1990-93||25||25||md||25||md||22||md||md||md||24 A||md|
|Cancer deaths (females) 6||per 1,000 females aged over 65||1990-93||18||17||md||16||md||16||md||md||md||17 A||md|
|Road accident deaths 4||per 100,000 of population||1994-95||16||11||11||'10||md||7||14||6||16||12 M||md|
|Suicides (males) 6||per 100,000 people||1989-93||24||21||21||22||md||21||md||md||20||21 M||md|
|Suicides (females) 6||per 100,000 people||1989-93||6||5||6||11||md||8||md||md||5||7 M||md|
|Doctors 4, 6||per 10,000 people||1991-95||21||22||22||18||16||28||12||16||26||27 M||20 A|
|Hospital beds 4||per 10,000 people||1991-95||7||9||5||16||1||14||3||5||4||7 M||md|
|Total health spending 4||as percentage of GDP||1991-95||8||9||10||7||5||6||3||7||14||8 M||md|
|Health spending per person 4||expenditure per person in US$ (PPP)||1991-95||1,203||1,741||2,049||1,581||386||1,821||272||1,246||3,701||1,581 M||md|
|Government share of total health spending 3, 4||as percentage of total expenditure||1991-95||76||67||72||79||57||83||50||86||46||78 M||md|
|Food and nutrition|
|Food versus other spending 1||percent of household spending going on food||latest ****||16||19||13||24||37||24||33||19||11||20 M||39 M|
|Daily available calories 1||calories per person||1988-90||3,460||3,302||3,242||2,021||3,061||3,221||3,197||3,270||3,642||3,421 A||2,582 A|
|Excess calories 1||percentage above FAO recommendations||1992||39||20||16||24||35||21||36||32||41||34 A||19 A|
|Pure fats and oils (animal and vegetable) 1||percent of total calorie intake||1980-90||16||14||19||11||13||17||16||11||18||17 A||10 A|
|Animal products (excl. fish and pure fats) 1||percent of total calorie intake||1980-90||28||31||25||12||14||24||5||27||26||22 A||12 A|
|Starches (e.g. cereals and potatoes) 1||percent of total calorie intake||1980-90||25||27||26||42||47||32||52||28||24||32 A||57 A|
|Alcohol consumption 6||litres per person per year||1991||7.8||7.7||7.1||6.3||md||4.1||md||7.4||7||8.1 A||md|
|Grains fed to livestock 5||percent of total grain consumption||1994||47||60||76||46||38||66||31||50||68||60 M||38 A|
|Employment and unemployment|
|Primary sector (farming, forestry, fishing) 3||percent of total employment||1994||10||5||4||6||26||6||45||2||3||6 M||md|
|Secondary (manufacturing, building, energy) 3||percent of total employment||1994||25||24||23||34||22||23||22||26||24||27 M||md|
|Tertiary sector (services) 3||percent of total employment||1994||65||71||73||60||52||71||33||72||73||65 M||md|
|Part-time employment 4||percent of total employment||1995||22||25||19||20||26||27||17||24||19||19 M||md|
|Unemployment rate 3||percent of workforce seeking and available for work||1994||8||10||10||3||4||5||8||10||6||8 A||md|
|Household income inequality 6||income ratio of top 20 percent of households to bottom 20 percent||1981-91||8.8||9.6||7.1||4.3||3.6||5.9||md||9.6||8.9||6 M||md|
|Income share of top 10 percent 1||percent of national income||latest ****||29||28||24||32||38||27||42||28||33||27 M||32 M|
|Income share of bottom 40 percent 6||percent of national income||1981-91||16||16||18||22||12||19||md||15||16||18 M||md|
|Income share of bottom 20 percent 1||percent of national income||latest ****||5||5||6||11||4||3||4||5||4||5 M||5 M|
|Women's income share 6||percent of national income earned by women||1993||38||39||37||33||24||41||22||34||40||34 M||32 A|
|Status of women 6||rank in UNDP's Gender Development Index (GDI)||1993||10||9||2||12||46||3||61||14||4||na||na|
|Empowerment of women 6||rank in UNDP's Gender Empowerment Measure (GEM)||1993||5||15||6||37||31||1||92||18||9||na||na|
| ||percent of seats held by women||1993||21||14||18||7||14||39||2||8||10||14 M||12 A|
| ||percent of all managers and administrators||1993||32||43||42||9||20||31||7||33||42||20 M||14 A|
| ||percent of all professional and technical workers||1993||48||25||46||42||44||58||29||44||53||47 M||39 A|
|Police 1||per 1,000 people||latest ****||159||222||12||208||md||152||64||238||314||159 M||md|
|Reported assaults (including murder) 1||per 100,000 people||latest ****||318||377||162||16||38||96||25||365||450||65 M||md|
|Reported burglaries 1||per 100,000 people||latest ****||2,942||1,963||1,674||188||md||74||md||2,404||1,099||1,098 M||md|
|Education and science|
|Expenditure on education 3, 6||percentage of GDP||1992-94||7||6||7||5||4||7||3||4||7||5 M||5 A|
| ||US $ (PPP)||1995||2,659||2,985||md||3,960||741||md||832||3,295||5,492||2,985 M||md|
| ||US $ (PPP)||1995||3,951||4,871||md||4,356||1,477||md||587||4,494||6,541||4,632 M||md|
| ||US $ (PPP)||1995||7,337||9,036||11,132||7,556||4,264||8,343||2,696||8,241||14,607||7,447 M||md|
|Pupil teacher ratios (primary) 1, 6||students per teacher||1992||18.5||18.4||17.8||19.7||29.6||12.9||29.3||19.6||20.1||18 M||30 A|
|Pupil teacher ratios (secondary) 1, 6||students per teacher||1992||13.4||12.4||17.8||17.2||17.7||11||25.6||13.7||12||13 M||20 A|
|Mathematics achievement score 4||average national score in TIMSS survey *****||1996||508||530||527||605||md||503||md||505||500||519 M||md|
|Adults with upper secondary school education 4||percentage of 25-64 olds||1993||34||27||28||md||md||53||13||54||53||38 M||md|
|Adults with tertiary education 4||percentage of 25-64 olds||1993||23||23||46||md||md||27||7||21||32||21 M||md|
|Current tertiary students 3||full-time students per 1,000 people||1993-94||28||23||41||29||15||32||19||18||31||26 M||md|
|Tertiary science enrolment 6||as percentage of total tertiary enrolment||1992||20||26||16||22||34||20||23||28||17||21 A||25 A|
|Scientists and technicians 4||per 10,000 of the labour force||1991-94||37||64||52||<99||4||69||7||51||74||47 M||md|
|Research and development (R&D) spending 4||US$ (PPP) per head of population||1994||157||305||330||601||382||370||19||379||646||310 M||md|
1 Encyclopaedia Britannica (1996);
2 OECD (1995);
3 OECD (1996);
4 OECD (1997);
5 World Resources Instutute (1996);
6 United Nations Development Programme (1996)
T=total A=average M=midpoint (median) md=missing data na=not applicable
* In most cases, rates and percentages are rounded to the nearest whole number.
** Excludes Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and South Korea because of insufficient data.
*** NZ data are for 'residential' waste. Data for Australia and the UK are for 'household municipal' waste. All others are for 'municipal' waste (i.e. waste from households and small businesses disposed of through municipal collections or facilities).
**** 'Latest' data are the most recent available, with most dating from the early 1990s but some dating from the 1980s.