Consumption-based material flow indicators - Comparing six ways of calculating the Austrian raw material consumption providing six results

Eisenmenger, Nina and Wiedenhofer, Dominik and Schaffartzik, Anke and Giljum, Stefan ORCID: and Bruckner, Martin and Schandl, Heinz and Wiedmann, Thomas and Lenzen, Manfred and Tukker, Arnold and Arjan, de Koning (2016) Consumption-based material flow indicators - Comparing six ways of calculating the Austrian raw material consumption providing six results. Ecological Economics, 128. pp. 177-186. ISSN 0921-8009


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Understanding the environmental implications of consumption and production depends on appropriate monitoring tools. Material flow accounting (MFA) is a method to monitor natural resource use by countries and has been widely used in research and policy. However, the increasing globalization requires the consideration of "embodied" material use of traded products. The indicator raw material consumption (RMC) represents the material use - no matter where in the world it occurs - associated with domestic final demand. It provides a consumption-based perspective complementary to the MFA indicators that have a territorial focus. Several studies on RMC have been presented recently but with diverging results; hence, a better understanding of the underlying differences is needed. This article presents a comparison of Austrian RMC for the year 2007 calculated by six different approaches (3 multi-regional input-output (MRIO) and 3 hybrid life-cycle analysis-IO approaches). Five approaches result in an RMC higher than the domestic material consumption (DMC). One hybrid LCA-IO approach calculates RMC to be lower than DMC. For specific material categories, results diverge by 50% or more. Due to the policy relevance of the RMC and DMC indicators it is paramount that their robustness is enhanced, which needs both data and method harmonization.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: The research on the Austrian RMC account presented in this article was supported by the Austrian Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management, grant number BMLFUW-UW.1.4.18/0039-I/2/2014. Writing of this paper was in part supported by the EU FP7 DESIRE project, grant agreement number 308552. Anke Schaffartzik was the recipient of a DOC-team-fellowship of the Austrian Academy of Sciences (ÖAW) at the Institute of Social Ecology.
Keywords: Raw material consumption; Material footprint; Material flow accounting; Input-output analysis; Sustainable resource use; Resource efficiency
Divisions: Departments > Sozioökonomie > Ecological Economics
Version of the Document: Accepted for Publication
Variance from Published Version: Minor
Depositing User: Gertraud Novotny
Date Deposited: 27 Nov 2018 08:34
Last Modified: 22 Oct 2019 11:38
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