Material Flow Accounting and Analysis (MFA) – A Valuable Tool for Analyses of Society-Nature Interrelationships

Hinterberger, F., Giljum, S. & Hammer, M. (2003)

This paper aims at summarising methodological foundations and the state of the art in the rapidly emerging field of material flow accounting and analysis (MFA). It gives a short description of the method starting with the historical development, presenting a general model of economy-wide material flow analysis, illustrating indicators that can be derived from MFA accounts, and explaining methods for the calculation of so-called “ecological rucksacks”. It then illustrates main areas of applications of MFA and describes the shortcomings of this method. Finally, selected empirical results taken from recently published MFA studies for the European Union are discussed and an outlook on possible extensions and future methodological development of the MFA approach is given.

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