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Keywords:

  • construction materials;
  • industrial ecology;
  • material flow analysis (MFA);
  • regional MFA;
  • urbanization;
  • urban sprawl

Summary

The article presents the results of a research project aimed at (1) examining the feasibility of material flow analysis (MFA) on a regional and urban scale in France, (2) selecting the most appropriate method, (3) identifying the available data, and (4) calculating the material balance for a specific case. Using the Eurostat method, the study was conducted for the year 2003 and for three regional levels: Paris, Paris and its suburbs, and the entire region. Applying the method on a local scale required two local indicators to be defined in order to take into account the impact of exported wastes on MFA: LEPO, local and exported flows to nature, and DMCcorr, a modified domestic material consumption (DMC) that excludes exported wastes (and imported ones if necessary).

As the region extracts, produces, and transforms less material than the country as a whole, its direct material input (DMI) is lower than the national DMI. In all the areas, LEPO exceeds 50% of DMI; in contrast, recycling is very low. The multiscale approach reveals that urban metabolism is strongly impacted by density and the distribution of activities: the dense city center (Paris) exports all of its wastes to the other parts of the region and concentrates food consumption, whereas the agricultural and urban sprawl area consumes high levels of construction materials and fuel. This supports the use of MFA on an urban and regional scale as a basis for material flow management and dematerialization strategies and clearly reveals the important interactions between urban and regional planning and development, and material flows.