The quantity of resources extracted and eventually consumed can be measured fairly accurately. However, the environmental and social costs of resource depletion are more difficult to assess. Depletion of nonrenewable resources limits their availability to future generations. Also, renewable resources used faster than they can be replaced are actually nonrenewable.
Another aspect of resource depletion important for impact assessment is resource quality. Resource quality is a measurement of the concentration of a primary material in a resource. In general, as resources become depleted, their quality declines. Using low-quality resources requires more energy and other input while producing more waste.
Was this article helpful?