The aim of this article is to quantify the drivers for the changes in raw material consumption (domestic material consumption expressed in the form of all materials extracted and used in the production phase) in terms of technology, which refers to the concept of sustainable production; the product structure of final demand, which refers to the concept of sustainable consumption; and the volume of final demand, which is related to economic growth. We also aim to determine to what extent the technological development and a shift in product structure of the final demand compensate for the growth in final consumption volume. Therefore, we apply structural decomposition analysis (SDA) to the change in raw material consumption (RMC) of the Czech Republic between 2000 and 2007. To present the study in a broader context, we also show other material flow indicators for the Czech Republic for 2000 and 2007.
Our findings of SDA show that final demand structure has a very limited effect on the change in material flows. The rapid change in final demand volume was not compensated for crude oil, metal ores, construction materials, food crops, and timber. For the material category of non-iron metal ores, even the change in technology contributes to an increase in material flows. The largest relative increases are reported for non-iron metal ores (38%) and construction materials (30%).
The main changes in material flows related to the Czech Republic are driven by exports and enabled by imports, the main source of these increased material flows. This emphasizes the increasing role of international trade.