Raw material consumption or total material consumption? Which indicator is better for evaluating material resource consumption and environmental pressure?

Kovanda, J. (2020) Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 192(6), 362

The article presents a time series of raw material consumption (RMC) and total material consumption (TMC) indicators for the Czech Republic for 1990-2017 calculated with the use of hybrid input-output life cycle assessment approach (hybrid IO-LCA). While the RMC indicator has already been calculated with the use of various alternatives of input-output or hybrid approaches for some other countries, we are not aware of any published TMC time series calculated with the use of these methods. We briefly discuss the time development of the indicators' material components. The core of the article lies in the assessment of the suitability of RMC and TMC indicators for (1) Quantification of material resource consumption of nations or groups of nations and (2) Evaluation of environmental pressure related to material resource consumption. We concluded that RMC is more appropriate for quantification of material resource consumption, as unused flows included in TMC are not consumed, but only displaced. Regarding the second purpose of the indicators, we found that trends of environmental pressure expressed by RMC and TMC are similar for the Czech Republic. We showed that RMC significantly underestimates total environmental pressure related to material resource consumption, which is particularly relevant for international comparison. Finally, we revealed that the material structure of the indicators differ and referring to an example of coal and construction and industrial minerals we argued that TMC is more appropriate for the evaluation of environmental pressure attributable to particular resources.


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