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Throughput and the Material Flow Cycle

 
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Richard Glover



Joined: 29 Sep 2008
Posts: 185
Location: Ealing, London, UK

PostPosted: Wed Feb 04, 2009 2:48 pm    Post subject: Throughput and the Material Flow Cycle Reply with quote

Throughput or the assessment of physical material flows through the economy is one aspect in evaluating how sustainable the economy is. Reducing the amount of material extracted, displaced, wasted and dumped should at least go some way to reducing man's ecological footprint. 3 reports from a long-running programme investigating this approach are linked to here.

1) www.indecol.ntnu.no/indecolwebnew/masterprogramme/best2002/slides/Kleijn_MFA.pps is an excellent powerpoint presentation with useful diagrams illustrating the principles, changes in material use over 20 years, and much more.
2) http://archive.wri.org/publication_detail.cfm?pubid=2742 is where a full 1997 report can be downloaded from. This is early work for the above presentation, and covers much of the methodology and rationale behind the work.
3 http://pdf.wri.org/weight_of_nations.pdf is a later report from the same work programme. It gives much more detail on the material flows through select nations.

Material flow is measured by weight in these reports. This does not account for particular environmental harm due to different natures of substance (1gm uranium vs 1kg of coal extraction waste for instance). However the basis for such refinement is allowed for in their methodology.

Such analysis is non-trivial to say the least, but probably not more than that involved in compiling GDP statistics.

Perhaps the governments of the world could employ some of the sharp minds being displaced from the financial centres in begining this work.
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Richard Glover



Joined: 29 Sep 2008
Posts: 185
Location: Ealing, London, UK

PostPosted: Sun Jun 06, 2010 4:19 pm    Post subject: Material Flows in the Blue Book Reply with quote

UK data relating to material flows in the economy, and many other environmental considerations are included in Part 5 of the "Blue Book", which is the anual official UK compilation of economic data.
http://www.statistics.gov.uk/downloads/theme_economy/BB09.pdf

This source is well worth investigating; it takes time to get the sense of it's general arrangement, but the thorough systematic approach is excellent and well worth the trouble. Nearly all nations follow the basic common format with common definitions and measurement techniques. An excellent and very detailed explanation (655 pages) is to be found at http://www.statistics.gov.uk/downloads/theme_economy/concepts_sources_&_methods.pdf.

For information: The UK data is produced by ONS (Office for National Statistics); it is compatible with the EU scheme (ESA95), which is itself compatible with the UN scheme (SNA93).
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