Home → Sustainable production and consumption

According to the indicators taken into account here, resource efficiency slightly increases and material consumption in Hungary is slightly reduced, but no other positive tendency can be detected. The share of renewables is very low; the packaging output is increasing, while the rate of organic farming has plummeted, in sharp in contrast with the international trends. Overall, neither the production nor consumption trends bring us closer to sustainability.


Resource productivity

Resource productivity as well as the evolution of patents increasing energy efficiency in the construction industry presents a favourable image of the greening of the Hungarian industrial and service sectors. Since 2008, Hungarian resource productivity has improved continuously and significantly. Compared to the base year 2000, resource productivity grew by 52,63 percentiles by the year 2011, a growth which significantly exceeded the improvement of the EU or the average of the Visegrad countries (19 and 31 percentiles respectively). Among Hungarian patents, there is a high proportion of construction industry patents designed to improve energy efficiency. The share of 6.83% as published for the year 2010 in the OECD Green Growth Indicators Database is quite high in an international comparison.


Water use

Essentially dependent on rainfall, water consumption is affected by the irrigable land rate, gradually increasing in recent years. A high number of unsustainable trends can be observed in this area as well: the Orbán government has legalized drilling unauthorized underground water wells and artesian, while failing to take any steps to disseminate water saving irrigation technologies (drip irrigation or other technologies). Meanwhile, even the water strategy of the Orbán government deems untenable the current situation, characterized by regular flooding and inland inundation on the one hand, and recurring droughts (as well as wasteful water use practices in irrigated areas) on the other hand.



In the previous peak year of 2008, the total production of packaging materials in Hungary amounted to 880 thousand tons. A significant decrease followed suit in the wake of the economic crisis, the figure falling back to 820 million tons by 2011. In 2012, production started to rise steeply again, reaching 1,146,311 tons. The dimensions of this expansion might also be accounted for changes in the methodology of calculation, given that such a leap was not justified by economic developments.


Decoupling trends

There is only a limited pool of indicators available that would enable us to judge whether economic growth can be decoupled from changes in material use and the environmental impact. The picture in Hungary is quite contradictory.


Renewable energy production

The use of renewable energy sources is very low in Hungary. We are only slowly approach the target, and there is a considerable delay compared to neighbouring countries as well. In fact, it is only the production rate of biomass-based energy that is significant, the use of other energy resources is minimal. The government seems to be expressly blocking the exploitation of the country’s solar and wind power generating potential, obviously due to the construction of the new nuclear power plant blocks.


Organic farming

Until the mid-2000-s (and especially after the National Agro-environmental Programme was launched in 2002), the number of organic farmers and the area of land cultivated by them increased significantly in Hungary. At the height of this process, over 130 thousand hectares of land were cultivated organically, and there were nearly 1,600 controlled agricultural producers. However, since 2004, there has been a decline and fluctuations both in terms of the size of the controlled land and the number of controlled producers. The decline has been especially spectacular since 2009, mainly due to the transformation of the regulatory system and the structure of subsidies. If we add the fact that Hungary is among the very last in Europe in terms of the share of area of land under organic farming,  the 'results' thus achieved are clearly disappointing: in 2012, there were about 1560 organic producers cultivating 130.6 thousand hectares, being roughly equivalent to the figures from a decade earlier. The decrease observed in Hungary is unparalleled and unprecedented both in Europe and in the narrower Carpathian region.

Under optimal circumstances, organic farming should be focused on high (or higher) added value, local produce and producers directly benefiting producers from sales. In Hungary, however, it is instead about producing organic livestock feed and other agricultural raw materials, complemented by the fact that fallows, grasslands, reeds and other unused land is often reclassified as organic farmland for the sake of increased subsidies, unintentionally embellishing the statistical data.

In terms of so-called organic animal husbandry, 75% of the organic livestock is cattle. Including the buffalo (933 livestock units or 4.2% of the total portfolio) the share of ruminants (17607 units) is 79.2% of the total organic animal stock (22216 livestock units). The vast majority of this stocks lives within the bounds of national parks (for gene preservation and presentation purposes), not involved in food production at all. To make things worse, the size of livestock in ecological animal husbandry is continuously decreasing (except for poultry). Particularly impressive is the decline of organic beekeeping, which used to be one of the success stories of the organic livestock sector in Hungary.