People in industrialised countries consume up to twenty times more materials than people in least developed countries. 12 Box 2.1 | Indicators derived from material flow analysis on the national level Material use at the national level is measured with material flow accounting and analysis (MFA). This is a method of environmental accounting from which a number of indicators can be derived; the most widely applied being indicators on the material inputs and consumption of countries (see also EUROSTAT (2007) and OECD (2007). The system of MFA-based indicators is modular. The simplest input and consumption indicators--Direct Material Input (DMI) and Domestic Material Consumption (DMC)--only include direct material flows. These are already being compiled by national statistical offices across Europe and are published by EUROSTAT, making them the most accessible MFAindicators in terms of data availability. However, they are also regarded as problematic, as a country can improve its performance simply by substituting domestic material extraction with imports of processed materials and because indirect flows (also called the “ecological rucksacks” of international trade), which are used along the production chain to produce a traded good, are not accounted for (Moll and Bringezu 2005). Therefore, indicators which are ‘safe’ against these distortions are preferable. The second pair of indicators - Raw Material Input (RMI) and Raw Material Consumption (RMC) - include indirect flows. Methods to calculate these indicators are currently being tested in pilot studies both at the European (EUROSTAT) and national levels. The final pair of indicators - Total Material Requirement (TMR) and Total Material Consumption (TMC) additionally include “unused domestic extraction”, such as overburden from mining activities, excavation materials or harvest losses in agriculture. It also includes, for instance, the extractions of soil and earth for infrastructure deployment and maintenance or the “bycatch” in fishing (which may be unintentionally killed). TMR and TMC are thus the most comprehensive MFA-based indicators. The European Commission also envisages them as the most desirable indicators for measuring material input and consumption (EUROSTAT 2009). However, data on TMR and TMC are only available for a few countries so far, but the data situation is improving and the EIO intends to use existing data to the largest extent possible. In per capita terms, people in industrialised countries consume up to twenty times more materials than people in least developed countries (Giljum et al. 2011). In Europe, around 14.5 tonnes per person (measured with the indicator RMC) were consumed in the year 2000, whereas North Americans consumed around 32 tonnes and inhabitants of Oceania about 37 tonnes per person. By contrast, average material consumption was about 5.5 tonnes per person in Asia and less than 5 tonnes in Africa (see Figure 2.1). Worldwide material productivity (which is calculated by dividing GDP by RMC) was around 615 USD per tonne of natural materials used in 2000. However, while Europe and North America produced output worth more than 1,000 USD with one tonne of material (1,080 and 1,029 USD per tonne respectively), material productivities in Asia, Oceania, Latin America and Africa were below average (420, 419, 324 and 149 USD/kg respectively) (see Figure 2.2).
eco-innovation observatory The material productivity of a country or region seems to be strongly related to its economic structure and levels of GDP. Low material productivities are found on continents with small industrial and service sectors (Africa) or on continents that are specialised in the extraction and export of materials (Latin America, Oceania) (see Box 5.3 for a discussion of the resource curse of resource-rich countries). This low material productivity is being observed despite the fact that in those world regions, material cycles are often more closed compared to industrialised regions. Repair rates and re-use of e.g. machinery or cars are often very high. In regions with a higher share of manufacturing, and particularly services, material productivity is typically higher (North America, Europe), driven by generally higher levels of GDP. The interpretation of worldwide rankings of regions regarding their material productivities should therefore be taken with care. As Figure 2.1 has shown, material productivity is highest for the continents with the highest levels of material extraction and consumption, except for Oceania, whose economy is much more dominated by material-intensive activities. Based on material productivity one might assume that Europe and North America are the most sustainable continents in terms of material use. However, total levels of material extraction and consumption per capita show that actually the opposite is true. The most efficient countries in the world are in most cases also the ones which extract and consume the most. EU level: relative de-coupling, but no absolute reduction A number of current EU policy initiatives aim at „decoupling“ economic growth from material use and its negative environmental impacts. As Figure 2.3 illustrates, the European economy Figure 2.1 Material consumption of different world regions, in tonnes per capita (2000) Tonnes per capital US $ per tonne 40 1200 35 30 25 20 15 10 5 0 Oceania North America Europe Latin America Source: Giljum et al. (in press) World Asia Africa 1000 800 600 400 200 0 Figure 2.2 Material productivity of different world regions, in USD per tonne (2000) Europe North America World Asia Oceania Latin America Africa Annual Report 2010 The most resource efficient countries in the world are in most cases also the ones which extract and consume the most. 13