Navigation Links
The true raw material footprint of nations
Date:9/2/2013

Sydney, Australia: The amount of raw materials needed to sustain the economies of developed countries is significantly greater than presently used indicators suggest, a new Australian study has revealed.

Using a new modelling tool and more comprehensive indicators, researchers were able to map the flow of raw materials across the world economy with unprecedented accuracy to determine the true "material footprint" of 186 countries over a two-decade period (from 1990 to 2008).

The study, involving researchers from the University of New South Wales, CSIRO, the University of Sydney, and the University of California, Santa Barbara, was published today in the US journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. It reveals that the decoupling of natural resources from economic growth has been exaggerated.

The results confirm that pressures on raw materials do not necessarily decline as affluence grows and demonstrates the need for policy-makers to consider new accounting methods that more accurately track resource consumption.

"Humanity is using raw materials at a level never seen before with far-reaching environmental impacts on biodiversity, land use, climate and water," says lead author Tommy Wiedmann, Associate Professor of Sustainability Research at the UNSW School of Civil and Environmental Engineering. "By relying on current indicators, governments are not able to see the true extent of resource consumption."

"Now more than ever, developed countries are relying on international trade to acquire their natural resources, but our research shows this dependence far exceeds the actual physical quantity of traded goods," says Wiedmann, who worked at CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences when the research was undertaken.

In 2008, the total amount of raw materials extracted globally was 70 billion metric tons 10 billion tons of which were physically traded. However, the results show that three times as many resources (41% or 29 billion tons) were used just to enable the processing and export of these materials.

The researchers say that because these resources never leave their country of origin, they are not adequately captured by current reporting methods. They have used a new indicator they call the "material footprint" to more accurately account for these 'lost' resources and have developed tools that could assist policy-makers in future.

Economy-wide accounting metrics (such as Domestic Material Consumption or DMC) currently used by certain governments and intergovernmental organisations, including the OECD, the European Union and the UN Environment Programme, only account for the volume of raw materials extracted and used domestically, and the volume physically traded.

These indicators suggest resource-use in wealthy nations has increased at a slower rate than economic growth something known as relative decoupling and that other countries have actually seen their consumption decrease over the last 20 years something known as absolute decoupling. (See figures).

Decoupling of raw material usage from economic growth is considered one of the major goals en route to achieving sustainable development and a low-carbon economy.

But the study authors say when their "material footprint" indicators are factored in these achievements in decoupling are smaller than reported and often non-existent.

The study relates to the following resources: metal ores, biomass, fossil fuels and construction minerals.

Selected country findings:

  • In 2008 China had by far the largest material footprint (MF) in absolute values (16.3 billion tons), twice as large as that of the US and four times that of Japan and India. Sixty per cent of China's MF consists of construction minerals, reflecting its rapid industrialisation and urbanisation over the last 20 years.

  • Australia had the highest material footprint per capita (about 35 tons per person), but because it is a prolific exporter of resources, it appears to have a relative decoupling. Other developed economies (USA, Japan, UK) show similar levels at around 25 tons per person.

  • Lower material standard of living and lower average level of consumption in many developing countries is reflected in a footprint below 15 tons per person, with India at the lower end at 3.7 tons per person.

  • In absolute values, the US is by far the largest importer of primary resources embodied in trade and China the largest exporter. The largest per-capita exporters of embodied primary materials in particular metal ores are Australia and Chile.

  • All industrialised nations show the same typical picture over time: as GDP grew over the last two decades there appeared to be a relative decoupling of resource use as indicated by DMC (even absolute decoupling for the UK). However, when measured by the material footprint indicator, resource use has grown in parallel to GDP with no signs of decoupling. This is true for the USA, UK, Japan, EU27 and OECD.

  • South Africa was the only country shown to have an absolute decoupling using the MF indicator.


'/>"/>

Contact: Tommy Wiedmann
t.wiedmann@unsw.edu.au
61-466-012-214
University of New South Wales
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Diabetes Research Institute develops oxygen-generating biomaterial
2. Ozone treated water v. lethal microbial material
3. NIST releases Gulf of Mexico crude oil reference material
4. KIT researchers succeed in realizing a new material class
5. Computer model pinpoints prime materials for efficient carbon capture
6. New materials could slash energy costs for CO2 capture
7. Selenium suppresses staph on implant material
8. New technique allows simulation of noncrystalline materials
9. Harnessing the Materials Genome Conference
10. The future of biomaterial manufacturing: Spider silk production from bacteria
11. Composite nanofibers developed by Penn scientists next chapter in orthopaedic biomaterials
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:12/7/2016)... , Dec. 7, 2016   Veridium ... announced the appointment of new CEO James ... executive with decades of experience, has served in ... Cisco, where he specialized in expanding a pipeline ... technology portfolios. He most recently served as managing ...
(Date:12/6/2016)... 2016 Securus Technologies, a leading provider ... public safety, investigation, corrections and monitoring, and the ... five (5) year funding commitment by Securus to ... rehabilitation and reentry support to more inmates and ... 2004, the Prison Entrepreneurship Program (PEP) is an ...
(Date:12/2/2016)...   SoftServe , a global digital technology ... electrocardiogram (ECG) biosensor analysis system for continuous driver ... The smart system ensures device-to-device communication between ECG ... mobile devices to easily ,recognize, and monitor users ... technology advances, so too must the security systems ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:12/8/2016)... 2016   Biocept, Inc . (NASDAQ: ... clinically actionable liquid biopsy tests to improve the ... featuring its Target Selectorâ„¢ Circulating Tumor Cell platform ... detection of actionable biomarkers in patients with metastatic ... Sara Cannon Research Institute (SCRI), the research arm ...
(Date:12/7/2016)... -- Neogen Corporation (NASDAQ: NEOG ) announced ... as its chief science officer — a new position ... Neogen effective Jan. 1. Kephart has served ... of Thermo Fisher Scientific, as well as animal health ... industry experience also includes the management of a team ...
(Date:12/7/2016)... SAN DIEGO , Dec. 7, 2016  Biocom, the ... community, issued the statement below following passage of 21 st ... the House on November 30 by a 392-26 vote and ... This statement may be attributed to Joe Panetta , ... historic legislation that will give hope to millions of patients ...
(Date:12/7/2016)... , Dec. 7, 2016  Muse bio, a privately-held ... today announced that Dr. Kevin Ness has ... Board of Directors. Kevin succeeds Muse ... the company,s Chief Science Officer as well as remains ... of the BioDesign Center at the RAS Energy Institute ...
Breaking Biology Technology: