Economy-wide materials flows and environmental policy

Our consumption of natural resources in Europe has consequences on the environment outside the EU borders. Current policy does not sufficiently address these issues and therefore the topic has gained increasing interest of policy makers, both within the Netherlands, the EU and the OECD. From the EU and the OECD plans have been developed to monitor material flows entering the economy. From these monitoring systems, indicators can be derived, like Direct Material Input, which aggregate material flows on the basis of weight. This study, commissioned by VROM, CE and CML shows that weight is a poor indicator for the environmental problems associated with material consumption. Moreover, the proposed indicators do not link with the policy objectives of a material flow policy. We propose alternatives using information from LCAs and discuss the use of these alternatives in actual policy making.