Edited by Robert U. Ayres and Leslie W. Ayres
Chapter 15: Materials flow analysis and economic modeling
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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