Industry still failing on environment - UN report
Advances in the recycling of key materials and in car efficiency were still being outweighed by the effects of increased consumption, including a trend towards disposable products, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) found.
"Despite many good examples of how industries are reducing waste and emissions...we have found that the majority of companies are still doing business as usual," UNEP chief Klaus Toepfer said in a statement.
Issued three months before the Johannesburg "Earth Summit 2" on the environment, the UNEP report sought to measure progress made since the 1992 Rio Earth Summit that aimed to come up with ways of balancing environmental concerns with economic growth.
The report drew on industry evidence that recycled metal now satisfied about a third of world demand for aluminium, while the iron and steel sector was saving energy costs by recovering more of its product from scrap.
Yet it cited the "rebound effect" of industry responding to increased and changing consumer demand with new "throw away" products that generated more ecologically harmful waste.
"The clear message emerges: growing consumption levels are overtaking environmental gains," UNEP found.
Earth Summit 2, running from August 26 to September 4, will aim to hammer out a set of action plans to pull people out of poverty without inflicting damage on the environment.
However, there have already been concerns it will fall below expectations. The European Union has said preparations are going ahead too slowly, while ecologist groups have accused the United States of trying to block any major decisions at the summit.