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A Handbook of Industrial Ecology

Edited by Robert U. Ayres and Leslie W. Ayres

Industrial ecology is coming of age and this superb book brings together leading scholars to present a state-of-the-art overviews of the subject. Each part of the book comprehensively covers the following issues in a systematic style: the goals and achievements of industrial ecology and the history of the field; methodology, covering the main approaches to analysis and assessment; economics and industrial ecology; industrial ecology at the national/regional level; industrial ecology at the sectoral/materials level; and applications and policy implications.
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Chapter 9: Substance flow analysis methodology

Ester van der Voet


9. Substance flow analysis methodology Ester van der Voet In this chapter, the analytic tool of substance flow analysis (SFA) is described and a general framework is presented to conduct SFA studies. SFA aims to provide relevant information for an overall management strategy with regard to one specific substance or a limited group of substances. In order to do this, a quantified relationship between the economy and the environment of a geographically demarcated system is established by quantifying the pathways of a substance or group of substances in, out and through that system. SFA can be placed in the scientific field of industrial ecology, as one way to operationalize the concept of industrial metabolism (Ayres 1989a). In this concept, an analogy is drawn between the economy and environment on a material level: the economy’s ‘metabolism’, in terms of materials mobilization, use and excretion to create ‘technomass’, is compared to the use of materials in the biosphere to create biomass. The economy thus is viewed only in terms of its materials flows. The analysis of such flows in general is called MFA (material flow accounting or analysis). Udo de Haes et al. (1997) define SFA as a specific brand of MFA, dealing only with the analysis of flows of specific chemicals. MFA is a broader concept, also covering the analysis of mass flows through an economic system and the analysis of bulk flows of specific materials such as paper, glass and plastics and is...

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