Approaches for Quantifying the Metabolism of Physical Economies: A Comparative Survey: Part II: Review of Individual Approaches


  • Peter L. Daniels

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      Senior lecturer in the Australian School of Environmental Studies, Griffith University, Nathan, Brisbane, Australia.

School of AES Griffith University, Nathan 4111, Brisbane, Australia


This article is the second of a two-part series that describes and compares the essential features of nine “physical economy” approaches for mapping and quantifying the material demands of the human economy upon the natural environ-ment. These approaches are critical tools in the design and implementation of industrial ecology strategies for greater eco-efficiency and reduced environmental impacts of human economic activity. Part I of the series provided an overview, meth-odological classification, and comparison of a selected set of major materials flow analysis (MFA) and related techniques. This sequel includes a convenient reference and overview of the major metabolism measurement approaches in the form of a more detailed summary of the key specific analytical and other features of the approaches introduced in part I. The surveyed physical economy related environmental analysis ap-proaches include total material requirement and output mod-els, bulk MFA (IFF (Department of Social Ecology, Institute for Interdiscplinary Studies of Austrian Universities) material flow balance model variant), physical input-output tables, substance flow analysis, ecological footprint analysis, environmental space, material intensity per unit service, life-cycle assessment (LCA), the sustainable process index, and company-level MFA.