Resource efficiency can be improved without further regulation

By Hans Hess, 01.09.2015

Hans Hess: President of Swissmem, President of the Board of Directors of Comet Holding AG and Reichle & De-Massari Holding AG, member of the Board of Directors of Kaba Holding AG and Burckhardt Compression Holding AG, Vice-President of economiesuisse (Swiss Business Federation)

Resource efficiency is entirely in the interest of manufacturing industry – particularly when margins have shrunk due to the strength of the Swiss franc. The sparing and future-oriented use of available resources is the cornerstone of a successful economy and is anything but new. Numerous Swiss industrial companies have been taking this challenge very seriously for many years – both as the consumers of resources and as the manufacturers of resource-conserving devices, machines and systems.

The efficient use of fuels and materials is constantly being optimised in the MEM (mechanical and electrical engineering) sector. This approach to resource consumption is yielding benefits in the production and use phases of the corresponding products, both within Switzerland and abroad: for example, the energy consumption of Switzerland’s MEM sector has been reduced by 42% since 1990. Moreover machines that are efficient in terms of both energy and material use offer enormous advantages for the user in the form of cost savings over their extended service life. Many positive examples of resource efficiency can be found in Swiss industry.

However, a resource-efficient economy needs good policy frameworks that foster entrepreneurship and innovation. The strength of the Swiss franc is placing a severe strain on the competitiveness of many export-oriented industrial companies.  Margins and jobs are under pressure and concrete relocation decisions are in the pipeline. It is important to note here the continuing lack of skilled workers and the uncertainty regarding the future of bilateral agreements with the EU, both factors that can influence the favourable outcome of such relocation decisions for Switzerland. The last thing these companies need today is more regulations, more bureaucracy and more restrictions on their business activities.

Relocation to less innovative and less ecologically active third countries will definitely not benefit global resource efficiency, and even less so the Swiss labour market and Swiss economy. Whether it remains not only a location for a green service economy but also, and particularly, for innovative, resource-efficient industrial activity is entirely under Switzerland’s own control. This requires consistently avoiding legal over-regulation and the associated restrictions. Things that make economic sense and for which there is high customer demand should be neither legally regulated nor subsidised.

Editor's note: Individual contributions may reflect an author's personal perspective. Over time, the spectrum of political views will be reflected in the variety of the contributions published. Editorial principles  

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Last modification 15.09.2015

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