Material Flow Accounting and Analysis (MFA) – A valuable tool for analyses of society-nature interrelationships

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

Encyclopaedia of the International Society for Ecological Economics (ISEE).

This paper summarizes methodological foundations and the state of the art in the rapidly emerging field of material flow accounting and analysis (MFA). Sections 1 to 8 give 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”. Section 9 illustrates main areas of applications of MFA, and section 10 describes the shortcomings of this method. Section 11 presents an overview of the state of the art of existing studies. Section 12 discusses selected empirical results taken from recently published MFA studies for the European Union. Finally, section 13 gives an outlook on possible extensions and future methodological development.

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