ISSUE IV - Outsourcing: implications in a globalized world (March 2018)

Dear reader,

In this the latest issue of The Nexus Times we are covering the critical issue of outsourcing and externalization of resources in European industry. The question is, what role does outsourcing play in the effectiveness of EU policies to reduce greenhouse gases emissions, promote renewable energies, increase recycling and reduce environmental impact of agriculture?

Due to the challeges in keeping track of externalized activities, they are difficult to measure and are often kept hidden from public view. In this edition we cover the externalization of waste, energy and water to explore the impacts of externalization from a nexus point of view - that is, from a cross-sectoral, big-picture systems perspective.

We hope you enjoy this March edition, and please write to us or go to our discussion forum to include your comments.

From the Magic Nexus team.

Table of Contents

  • What if Europe had to process its own waste?
  • What if energy imports mattered?
  • What if healthy diets had a hidden cost?

What if Europe had to process its own waste?

A great deal Europe's waste is exported to the Global South, including electronic, chemical and incinerator waste. Despite recent policy action to reduce plastic waste, the EU still plans to export a significant amount of plastic to other countries. But what if  Europe did not export any waste at all?


What if energy imports mattered?

During the past few hundred years, growing numbers of people have obtained their energy from further and further afar, and supply has become inextricably linked to distant locations and events, expanding the spatial and temporal chain linking energy supply to demand. This is particularly true of oil, but also of all the other energy sources that can be moved across borders: coal, electricity, natural gas, and nuclear fuel (Overland, 2016). In 2012, the EU imported 53% of all the energy it consumed, at a cost of more than €1 billion per day.


What if healthy diets had a hidden cost?

Europe consumes around 200 million tonnes of fruits and vegetables (F&V) annually, which is about 12% of the total biomass consumed in our continent. This volume has steadily increased over the last decades, a consumption pattern that is a sign of the healthier and richer dietary habits and lifestyles of Europeans. However, these habits need to be met with increased production, which is not feasible everywhere. Contrary to other crops such as cereals or tubers, most F&V require high irrigation levels and warm weather conditions for growing.