Material productivity indicators

The compatibility of MFA with economic data from the System of National Accounts (SNA) enables direct relation of material flow-based indicators with indicators of economic performance, such as GDP. These interlinkage indicators quantify the material productivity (or, more generally, resource efficiency) of an economic system by calculating economic output (measured in monetary units) generated per material input (in physical units).With these indicators it can be investigated whether economic performance and raw material use have been decoupled or not.

On the international level, the most prominently used indicator to calculate resource productivity is GDP/DMC. It is proposed, for instance, in the EU Roadmap to a resource efficient Europe. However, this indicator has been criticised for (1) not taking into account insdirect resource requirements and (2) for comparing economic and physical numbers with different system boundaries. And on the international level it is discussed to used GDP/RMC instead.

In comparison, in Germany, the indicators direct material input (DMI; domestic extraction plus direct imports) and raw material input (RMI; domestic extraction plus direct and indirect imports) are used to calculate raw material use. In the German strategy for sustainable development, the focus lies with abiotic direct material input (DMIabiot), i. e. biomass is explicitly excluded. DMIabiot can be directly compared with GDP, and thereby raw material productivity (GDP/ DMIabiot) calculated. To make a comparison with RMI, the sum of GDP plus the value of imports are taken, in order to compare
indicators with the same system boundaries. This enables total raw material productivity to be calculated (GDP+IMP/RMI).

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