Keywords: ecological rucksack, factor 10, material flows, MIPS, TMR, unspecific environmental risk
Material flow analysis, TMR and the MIPS concept: a contribution to the development of indicators for measuring changes in consumption and production patterns
It is not the scarcity of resources that constitutes environmental problems, but their use, the physical throughput of our economies. Material flows are a proxy for the totality of the unspecific environmental risks from human activities. As a strategic goal, an increase of the life-cycle-wide resource productivity by a factor 10 is suggested, including the materials bought and sold and the not-valued materials: we have to take into account the product itself and its 'ecological rucksack'. Material flows are best measured at the input side of the economy, where their number as well as the number of entry gates is limited. Thus here regulation and economic incentives can work more efficiently and less bureaucratically than today. The material intensity of products and services can be expressed as MIPS, the material input per unit of service, and as TMR, the total material requirement on the macro level, an important element in physical input–output tables.