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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 15: Materials flow analysis and economic modeling

Karin Ibenholt


15. Materials flow analysis and economic modeling Karin Ibenholt A standard MFA gives an overview of the current, or even historical, material status in a country (or economy). But in order to approach issues like sustainable development, there is also a need to analyze possible future developments of material flows. This is especially true when analyzing how different policies (environmental and others) may affect the material flows in a society. The flows of materials are to a large degree determined by the broad interplay between different agents (the consumers and producers) that characterizes economies today. There is, for instance, a large volume of deliveries inside and between the different production sectors. Changes in the end consumption of a product will have repercussions through most sectors in the economy, since it is not only the producer of the product that must change the production but also producers of intermediate goods and raw materials. When studying the use of materials in an economy it is important to consider this complexity. Economic models do attempt to handle this interaction between economic agents and can therefore be considered as suitable tools for predicting and analyzing the consumption of materials. For the purpose of this chapter economic activity is considered to be a driver of material consumption, and not vice versa. In the real world, the causality is more likely to be two-directional. When doing a forecast of material flows (subject to the above caveat) one has to choose a model...

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