Research methods at IndEcol

Material Flow Analysis (MFA)

iconMaterials are the basis of modern society.

Material production leads to resource depletion and disposal of unwanted material flows can lead to environmental damage. To develop strategies for more sustainable material use, we first need to quantify the amounts of materials used in different industrial actives, products, and regions. This is done by material flow analysis (MFA), which is a method to study the flows and stocks of materials like steel, phosphorous, or carbon, within society. MFA studies often cover the complete man-made cycle of a material, from its origins in nature, through the different industries, through the final use phase, through the waste management industries, and back into recycled material or final disposal back to nature. 

The Industrial Ecology Programme is world-leading in the development and application of dynamic material flow analysis, which allows to build scenarios for future material cycles up to 2050 and beyond. These dynamic MFA models allow to forecast the retirement of products are purchased or built today.