Material Flows and Material Productivity in China, Australia, and Japan

Authors

  • Heinz Schandl,

  • James West


Address correspondence to: Heinz Schandl, CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences, Social and Economic Sciences Program, Canberra, Australia. Email:heinz.schandl@csiro.au

Summary

This article presents material flows and material productivity data and indicators for Australia, China, and Japan for the period 1970 to 2005. The main data used come from a new material flows database for the Asia-Pacific region that was assembled using up-to-date standardized methodologies of material flow accounting and significantly extends the knowledge base available for studies on resource use dynamics in the region. We show that the three nations studied here have diverging patterns of resource use, and that these patterns can be linked to interdependencies between them and the very different roles each nation plays within a globalized system of natural resource exploitation. We also conduct a brief analysis of the most important drivers of changes in their resource use over the period, using an IPAT framework (Impact = Population × Affluence × Technology). The fundamentally different economic structures and trading roles of each country, that is, primary resource provider (Australia), mature and advanced manufacturer (Japan), and rapidly industrializing developing country (China), lead to starkly different contexts in which appropriate policies to encourage sustainable resource use must be formulated.

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