Economy-wide material system analysis: Mapping material flows through the economy

Kovanda, J. (2021) Journal of Industrial Ecology. 2021, 25(5), 1121-1135

This article proposes a new approach for mapping material flows through the economy referred to as economy-wide material system analysis (EW-MSA). EW-MSA monitors material flows along production chains, connects manufacturing and use of various products with related emission flows, and shows how waste is recycled. The quantification of material flows in EW-MSA is carried out by unambiguously defined EW-MSA indicators. The data on EW-MSA indicators are organized in an EW-MSA database while the results of EW-MSA can be clearly presented with Sankey flow charts. The proposed method was tested using the Czech Republic as a case study. It shows that the Czech Republic is an open economy, as more manufactured products are exported than used domestically. The total physical stock of materials in the economy is continuously growing and only about 7% of total material input into manufacturing is composed of secondary materials. Manufacturing of motor vehicles and transport equipment is highly dependent on imported materials and a significant amount of waste from motor vehicles’ manufacture and use is exported instead of being recycled and returned to the manufacturing process. Further development and use of EW-MSA should go hand in hand with the development of needed data sources: Only a fraction of data was directly accessible in the official statistics while the rest had to be modeled with the use of other data and various coefficients. This burdened the results with some uncertainties.


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