Material Flow Accounts (MFA)

The material flow accounts show the physical exchange process between society and nature. The flow of materials is described in four key flows: biomass, metal ores, non-metal minerals and fossil fuels.

The share of domestic material extractions – compared to the overall material input (domestic extraction plus imports) - accounts for 59.2%, the majority is attributable to non-metallic minerals. About 28% of the material input – primarily mineral and biotic raw materials, timber as well as semi-finished and finished goods – is intended for export.

A significant proportion of the used materials is returned to nature in the form of emissions or waste, or is applied deliberately (for example as fertiliser). Some three quarters of the overall volume of materials are non-renewable raw materials (coal, crude oil, natural gas, mineral materials). This means that only one quarter of the material flow belongs to renewable raw materials such as biomass.

In Austria the direct material input (DMI) rose by 12.9% from 2000 to 2017, whereas domestic material consumption (DMC) only increased by 1.0%. As, during the same period, gross domestic product grew by about 28.5%, resource efficiency (GDP/DMC) increased significantly. The resource efficiency indicates how much economic achievement in euro per ton material deployment is gained - €1,995 euro per ton in 2017 compared to €1,568 in 2000.

The compilation of material flow accounts follows the international standards of SEEA (System of Environmental Economic Accounting) of the UNSD (United Nations Statistics Department). It is conducted according to the Regulation (EU) No 691/2011 in line with the methodological guidelines and manuals published by Eurostat. In 2018 the new economy-wide material flow accounts handbook was released. Along with the release several small revisions have been carried out, especially concerning the time series on domestic processed outputs. Furthermore two larger revisions have been implemented. First the current time series from 2000 to 2017 has been adjusted to the residence principle. Second the estimation on the domestic extraction of sand and gravel that was already adapted in 2008 has been revised. These revisions result in a break in the long time series starting from 1960 that is published in the Annex of the project report. The methodological changes are explained in detail in the project report (in German only).

In a pilot study, financed by Eurostat and the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management and carried out together with SERI Nachhaltigkeitsforschungs- und -kommunikations GmbH physical supply and use tables were developed for the material categories metallic and non-metallic minerals, energy carriers and biomass.