A review and comparative assessment of existing approaches to calculate material footprints

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Effective implementation of resource policies requires consistent and robust indicators. An increasing number of national and international strategies focussing on resource efficiency as a means for reaching a green economy call for such indicators. As supply chains of goods and services are increasingly organised on the global level, comprehensive indica-tors taking into account upstream material flows associated with internationally traded products need to be compiled. Particularly in the last few years, the development of con-sumption-based indicators of material use also termed material footprints has made considerable progress. This paper presents a comprehensive review of existing methodol-ogies to calculate material footprint-type indicators. The three prevailing approaches, i.e. environmentally extended input-output analysis (EE-IOA), coefficient approaches based on process analysis data, and hybrid approaches combing elements of EE-IOA and process analysis are presented, existing models using the different approaches discussed, and advantages and disadvantages of each approach identified. We argue that there is still a strong need for improvement of the specific approaches as well as comparability of re-sults, in order to reduce uncertainties. The paper concludes with recommendations for further development covering methodological, data and institutional aspects.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1 - 10
JournalEcological Economics
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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