Content uploaded by Willi Haas
All content in this area was uploaded by Willi Haas on Jul 20, 2018
Content may be subject to copyright.
Contents lists available at ScienceDirect
Global Environmental Change
journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/gloenvcha
From resource extraction to outﬂows of wastes and emissions: The
socioeconomic metabolism of the global economy, 1900–2015
, Christian Lauk, Willi Haas, Dominik Wiedenhofer
Institute of Social Ecology (SEC), Department of Economics and Social Sciences, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna, Schottenfeldgasse 29, 1070
Material ﬂow accounting
Sustainable resource use
Waste and emissions
In-use material stocks
The size and structure of the socioeconomic metabolism are key for the planet’s sustainability. In this article, we
provide a consistent assessment of the development of material ﬂows through the global economy in the period
1900–2015 using material ﬂow accounting in combination with results from dynamic stock-ﬂow modelling.
Based on this approach, we can trace materials from extraction to their use, their accumulation in in-use stocks
and ﬁnally to outﬂows of wastes and emissions and provide a comprehensive picture of the evolution of societies
metabolism during global industrialization. This enables outlooks on inﬂows and outﬂows, which environmental
policy makers require for pursuing strategies towards a more sustainable resource use.
Over the whole time period, we observe a growth in global material extraction by a factor of 12 to 89 Gt/yr. A
shift from materials for dissipative use to stock building materials resulted in a massive increase of in-use stocks
of materials to 961 Gt in 2015. Since materials increasingly accumulate in stocks, outﬂows of wastes are growing
at a slower pace than inputs. In 2015, outﬂows amounted to 58 Gt/yr, of which 35% were solid wastes and 25%
emissions, the reminder being excrements, dissipative use and water vapor. Our results indicate a signiﬁcant
acceleration of global material ﬂows since the beginning of the 21
century. We show that this acceleration,
which took oﬀin 2002, was not a short-term phenomenon but continues since more than a decade. Between
2002 and 2015, global material extraction increased by 53% in spite of the 2008 economic crisis.
Based on detailed data on material stocks and ﬂows and information on their long-term historic development,
we make a rough estimate of what a global convergence of metabolic patterns at the current level in in-
dustrialized countries paired with a continuation of past eﬃciency gains might imply for global material de-
mand. We ﬁnd that in such a scenario until 2050 average global metabolic rates double to 22 t/cap/yr and
material extraction increases to around 218 Gt/yr. Overall the analysis indicates a grand challenge calling for
urgent action, fostering a continuous and considerable reduction of material ﬂows to acceptable levels.
Global population growth, industrialization and rising levels of
consumption have driven the demand for material resources and re-
sulted in fundamental changes in the global socioeconomic metabolism
(Krausmann et al., 2016). The global extraction (DE) of fossil and mi-
neral materials as well as of biomass has multiplied in the 20
(Krausmann et al., 2009). The environmental pressure arising from the
extraction of these materials and from their discard after processing and
use is threatening global sustainability (Steﬀen et al., 2015;
Wackernagel et al., 2002). Results of recent material ﬂow studies in-
dicate that after a period of slowed physical growth in the 1970s and
1980s, during which global material demand rose by and large with
population but much slower than GDP, growth of global DE accelerated
at the beginning of the 21
century (Schandl et al., 2017).
Economy-wide material ﬂow accounting (MFA) provides a toolbox
to investigate the ﬂow of material resources through economic systems
and indicators to measure the size and structure of the socioeconomic
metabolism (Fischer-Kowalski et al., 2011;Krausmann et al., 2017a).
MFA is a mass balanced approach which allows consistently linking
ﬂows of materials into and out of a socioeconomic system. It is widely
used in sustainability science to investigate biophysical characteristics
of economic systems and in environmental policy to monitor and guide
progress towards a more sustainable use of resources (Bringezu et al.,
2009;Hashimoto and Moriguchi, 2004). So far, both at the national and
global scale, MFA has mainly been used to assess the extraction of and
trade with materials and to calculate indicators such as material con-
sumption (DMC) and material productivity (Fischer-Kowalski et al.,
Received 4 December 2017; Received in revised form 11 April 2018; Accepted 7 July 2018
E-mail address: Fridolin.email@example.com (F. Krausmann).
2011). Several recent studies have investigated the development of
global material extraction in the last decades. A ﬁrst global assessment
of the long term development of global DE was published by
Krausmann et al. (2009) covering the period 1900–2005; Giljum et al.
(2014) presented an analysis of global material consumption and re-
source productivity for the period 1980–2009; Schaﬀartzik et al. (2014)
analyzed the evolution of global material ﬂows for world regions be-
tween 1950 and 2010 and most recently Schandl et al. (2017) discussed
direct material ﬂows and material footprints for country groups from
1970/90 to 2010 on the basis of a new MFA database provided by
UNEP (2016). Only few studies have attempted to provide a mass ba-
lanced picture of both input and output ﬂows of national economies;
noteworthy exceptions are the seminal studies published by the World
Resources Institute (Matthews et al., 2000) and more recently of Ščasný
et al. (2003) and Haas et al. (2015). Among the reasons why only few
studies have attempted to close the material balance is that data on
output ﬂows are fragmentary and the system boundaries applied in
waste and emissions statistics are not fully consistent with those applied
in MFA. Closing the material balance is therefore diﬃcult to achieve on
the basis of statistical data on wastes and emissions alone, but requires
consistent stock-ﬂow modelling taking material accumulation within
socioeconomic systems (net additions to stock, NAS) into account. MFA
methods to quantify NAS and output ﬂows are still in their infancy
(Eurostat, 2013;Moriguchi and Hashimoto, 2016) and far from the
level of standardization that has been achieved for DE and trade ﬂows.
While MFA claims to link material inputs to outputs in a mass ba-
lanced way, this strength so far has rarely been exploited. Here we
present an innovative approach that traces global material ﬂows from
extraction and use to the outﬂow of wastes and emissions, using the
MFA framework combined with dynamic stock-ﬂow modelling. We
signiﬁcantly expand the perspective of previous research which has
focused on global extraction of materials and for the ﬁrst time also
include in-use stocks of materials, net additions to stock and output
ﬂows in a systemic and consistent way into one account. In addition to
the traditional classiﬁcation of material ﬂows by material character-
istics we show data by a typology of material use distinguishing e.g.,
food and feed, materials used to provide technical energy or to build up
stocks of manufactured capital. We quantify net additions to stock
(NAS) and domestic processed output (DPO) and present an expanded
and updated estimate of global stocks of manufactured capital, humans
and livestock. Finally, we demonstrate, how this approach can be used
to develop novel stock-driven scenarios of future material use. All re-
sults can be download at: https://www.wiso.boku.ac.at/sec/data-down-
In the next section we brieﬂy introduce the methodological ap-
proach and the data sources we used. We then present the results for
DE, the development of stocks, NAS and DPO. We discuss how the size
and composition of material inputs, use and outputs has developed
since 1900 with a focus on the most recent developments in the 21
century. Based on the stock-ﬂow relations revealed by our approach
and long term trends in material use we ﬁnally develop a scenario how
global material use might evolve until 2050, assuming convergence of
per capita in-use stocks of materials at the level currently prevailing in
industrialized countries and continuation of past eﬃciency gains and
discuss the implications for sustainable development.
2. Methods and data
2.1. Material ﬂow accounting framework
Fig. 1 depicts the system boundaries and the stocks and ﬂows re-
levant for accounting of global material ﬂows in this study; Table 1
provides a brief nomenclature of MFA parameters. Closing the material
balance requires opening the black-box of the MFA framework and
shifting from a perspective of material properties towards a rough ty-
pology of material uses. Following MFA conventions, we consider three
types of physical structures of society (termed stocks): Humans, live-
stock and manufactured capital (i.e., all in-use artifacts). MFA accounts
for all materials (excluding water and air) that are extracted to produce
or reproduce these stocks or to provide services from them (Fischer-
Kowalski et al., 2011). On the input side we distinguish materials by
their material properties and further allocate these ﬂows to ﬁve major
use types (Fig. 1): We distinguish primary materials destined to be used
as feed for livestock, as food for humans, to generate technical energy,
for other dissipative use (e.g., seed, fertilizer minerals, salt) and to build
up and renew stocks of manufactured capital. Technical energy carriers
and materials for other dissipative use are considered to ﬂow through
stocks of manufactured capital where they are converted and provide
services, but they do not add to stocks. Net additions to stock (NAS)
denote the material ﬂow that corresponds to the year to year change of
stocks. Domestic processed output (DPO) comprises all materials that
leave the system as wastes and emissions or as deliberate applications
to the environment (e.g., fertilizers). In the case of the global system, no
import and export ﬂows have to be taken into account, the extraction of
materials (DE) equals material consumption (DMC). DMC equals the
sum of NAS and DPO. In order to close the material balance also oxygen
uptake (e.g., through combustion, respiration) and water (e.g., changes
in water content of materials, water uptake by humans and livestock)
have to be taken into account as “balancing ﬂows”. In this study we
present DE by material group and use type, stocks and NAS by stock
type and DPO by gateway or type. We propose a novel combination of
Fig. 1. Material ﬂow accounting (MFA): System boundaries, stocks (grey boxes)
and ﬂows (blue arrows) as considered in the global analysis of material ﬂows.
Balancing ﬂows (oxygen and water) are not shown (For interpretation of the
references to colour in this ﬁgure legend, the reader is referred to the web
version of this article).
Nomenclature of main parameters of material ﬂow accounting (MFA) used in
MFA parameter Deﬁnition
DE Used extraction of materials (excluding water and air). At
the global scale, in the absence of imports and exports,
extraction equals apparent material consumption (DMC)
and the sum of NAS and DPO*.
Stocks Physical structures of society: humans, livestock and
All in-use artifacts (buildings, infrastructures, durable
NAS Net additions to stock; year to year change of stocks
DPO Domestic processed output of wastes and emissions
including deliberately applied materials (e.g., fertilizers)
DPO* DPO excluding balancing ﬂows of oxygen and water, i.e.,
the fraction of DPO actually contained in DE
Balancing ﬂows Oxygen taken up during combustion and respiration and
water uptake by humans and livestock.
Metabolic rate Material consumption per capita of population
Material intensity Material consumption per unit of GDP
F. Krausmann et al.
accounting, mass balance based estimation procedures and top down
stock-ﬂow modelling to advance the traditional MFA framework and to
quantify all stocks and ﬂows of materials.
2.2. Material extraction and use
We updated the existing global DE series (Krausmann et al., 2009)
which distinguishes around 150 materials or material groups which are
aggregated to four main groups: biomass, fossil energy carriers, ores
and non-metallic minerals. We used the data sources and estimation
procedures described in detail in Krausmann et al. (2009) to update the
series to 2015, the most recent year for which all primary data were
available. We made several methodological improvements: the most
signiﬁcant adjustment was the inclusion of additional sand and gravel
used as subbase and base-course layer for roads and buildings in order
to reduce the systematic underestimation of DE of sand and gravel in
material ﬂow accounts. Most available MFA studies only take sand and
gravel for concrete and asphalt production into account and therefore
underestimate the actual use of sand and gravel for construction
(Miatto et al., 2016). Based on coeﬃcients derived from Miatto et al.
(2016) and assumptions on the use of downcycled construction and
demolition waste used as substitute for primary materials (Krausmann
et al., 2017b) we quantiﬁed the amount of additional sand and gravel
extracted from the environment. This results in a ﬂow of natural ag-
gregates of 6 Gt/yr or 7% of total DE in 2015 (Fig. S1). Other im-
provements were estimates of the raw materials extracted for the pro-
duction of bricks (clay) and of glass (silica sand, potash), which are not
or only fragmentarily reported in statistical sources (see SI).
Extracted materials were allocated to the ﬁve types of material use
distinguished in Fig. 1 and in Table 2. The allocation of materials from
the MFA database to these use categories was made on the basis of
information from production and industry statistics, mainly FAOSTAT
commodity balances (FAO, 2017), IEA and UN energy statistics and
balances (IEA, 2016;UNSD, 2013); USGS mineral statistics (Kelly and
Matos, 2017) and previous work on material use (e.g. Krausmann et al.,
2008a,b). Table 2 provides an overview of the deﬁnitions of material
use types and the used sources.
We distinguish three types of stock (Fig.1): Manufactured capital
(i.e., all in-use artifacts), livestock and humans. The material use da-
tabase provides the main input data for the Material Input Stocks and
Output (MISO) model (Krausmann et al., 2017b) used to quantify ma-
terials accumulated in stocks of manufactured capital, the corre-
sponding NAS and outﬂows of waste from processing of stock building
materials as well as from discarded stocks at the end of their service life
time. The MISO model is a top-down, dynamic stock ﬂow model (Müller
et al., 2014). The model and the assumptions made on losses, lifetime
distribution and recycling rates are described in detail in Krausmann
et al. (2017b). We expanded the model to also include glass and up-
dated the model input data to 2015 (the original study covered
1900–2010). The model now distinguishes 13 types of in-use stocks of
materials and the corresponding ﬂows: Paper, timber, plastics, steel,
copper, aluminum, all other metals, concrete, asphalt, bricks, container
glass, ﬂat glass and natural aggregates. We further expanded the stock
estimate by including humans and livestock. To estimate these stocks
we used population and livestock numbers sourced from UN-DESA
(2017),Maddison (2013),FAO (2017), data collections of the IIA (e.g.,
1922) and assumptions on average live-weight (see SI). NAS were cal-
culated from the diﬀerence between stocks in consecutive years.
2.4. Domestic processed output
DPO comprises all outﬂows of solid and liquid wastes and emissions
as well as deliberate material applications to the environment. We
distinguish ﬁve DPO ﬂows: Processing (and manufacturing) waste (incl.
tailings and ashes), end of life waste (after recycling), excrements (from
humans and livestock), emissions (from human and livestock metabo-
lism and thermal energy generation), other dissipative use and water
vapor. Table 3 provides an overview of the diﬀerent types of output
ﬂows that result from the ﬁve material use types distinguished in this
study and their allocation to DPO ﬂows. In deviation from MFA con-
ventions we also accounted for waste deposited in controlled landﬁlls
and excrements treated in sewage plant as DPO. We used statistical
data, model results and stoichiometry to quantify the DPO ﬂows and to
close the mass balance of the material ﬂow account.
Outﬂows from livestock and humans comprise excrements, CO
emissions and water vapor. They are estimated on the basis of a
physiological model of the metabolism of humans and livestock that
takes digestibility and stoichiometry into account and consistently re-
lates the intake of food and feed to outﬂows. Wastes and losses from the
production and distribution of agricultural products as well as food
wastes from households were estimated on the basis of waste data from
FAOSTAT (FAO, 2017) and coeﬃcients derived from Alexander et al.
(2017). Outﬂows from thermal combustion of technical energy carriers
(fossils and biomass) comprise emissions as well as ashes and water
vapor. We distinguish three main types of emissions: CO
We used information on the chemical composition of the reactants in
fuels and estimated the diﬀerent outﬂows as combustion products by
using stoichiometric equations. Details on the calculation of DPO ﬂows
from humans, livestock and energy production are provided in the SI.
Waste ﬂows related to the production and discard of manufactured
capital are results from the MISO model and calculated on the basis of
inputs of primary and secondary stock-building materials, material- and
time-speciﬁc lifetime distributions, as well as on assumptions on
Materials by use type. Deﬁnitions and main sources used to allocate DE to use types.
Material use ﬂow Composition Main source
Food Crops or parts of crops used to produce food for human consumption. Food products from
livestock production are considered an internal ﬂow. They are not part of domestic extraction
but a ﬂow from livestock to population.
FAOSTAT commodity balance (FAO, 2017)
Feed Crops or parts of crops used to feed livestock (market feed); forage crops (e.g. hay, silage);
crop residues used as feed; grazed biomass.
FAOSTAT commodity balance (FAO, 2017); global
feed balance (Krausmann et al., 2013)
Technical energy All fossil energy carriers (coal, oil, natural gas) used for energy generation; wood fuel and
crops for biofuel production.
FAO, 2017;IEA, 2016
Other dissipative use A small ﬂow comprising a broad range of materials including seed, crop residues used for
bedding, fossil materials used as feedstock in the petrochemical industry (excluding stock-
building materials such as plastics and bitumen), fertilizer minerals, salt and other non-
metallic minerals excluding stock-building minerals.
FAOSTAT commodity balance (FAO, 2017), USGS
(Kelly and Matos, 2017), own calculations
Stock-building materials Industrial wood, ores, sand and gravel, raw materials to produce plastics, bricks, glass,
See Krausmann et al. (2017b)
F. Krausmann et al.
processing and manufacturing losses and recycling rates. The MISO
model and the used data and assumptions are described in detail in
Krausmann et al. (2017b). Processing waste includes all losses during
the processing of primary and secondary materials used to produce
manufactured capital (including tailings from ore processing) as cal-
culated by the MISO model; end of life waste comprises solid waste
from discarded stocks, including hibernating stocks (i.e. stocks which
are not demolished but remain in place after the end of their service life
time). For other dissipative use we simply assumed that inputs equal
outputs. Due to lack of quantitative data, combustion of waste material
for energy generation (incineration) has not been considered; this re-
sults in slight overestimation of waste ﬂows and an underestimation of
emissions. Assuming that 50% of all plastic and wood/paper waste in
2015 (0.48 Gt/yr) was incinerated would reduce end of life waste after
recycling by 2% and increase emissions by 1.6%.
Closing the material balance requires to take balancing ﬂows into
account. These comprise oxygen input in thermal combustion and re-
spiration and contained e.g. in CO
emissions and to water taken up by
humans and livestock and contained in excrements. Balancing ﬂows are
large and account for around 50% of total DPO. Hence, we present DPO
in two variants: DPO refers to the actual mass of outﬂows e.g., CO
excrements at 75–85% moisture content; DPO* refers to the part of DPO
that actually originates from DE inputs e.g., C contained in CO
excrements at the water content of food and feed inputs.
2.5. Treatment of uncertainties
To assess the robustness of our results we conducted uncertainty
analysis for key components of the material ﬂow system based on lit-
erature and informed assumptions. We estimated uncertainty for global
DE, derived from maximum upper and lower assumptions on the un-
certainty of model input data and coeﬃcients used in estimation pro-
cedures. For in-use stocks of manufactured capital and DPO from dis-
carded stocks we utilize uncertainty information based on systematic
error propagation via Monte Carlo Simulations developed in previous
work (Krausmann et al., 2017b). Additionally, we conducted a
sensitivity analysis for stocks of manufactured capital evaluating the
eﬀect of systematic changes to lifetime distributions. For DPO ﬂows
from energetic use and other dissipative use no speciﬁc uncertainty
analysis was conducted. We assumed that uncertainties are similar to
the corresponding input ﬂows. Details are shown in the SI.
3.1. Material extraction
Fig. 2a shows the increase of global DE since 1900. Over the 115-
year period observed, DE multiplied by a factor 12 and by 2015 had
reached 89 Gt/yr (or 82 Gt/yr if additional sand and gravel used for
subbase and base-course layers is excluded; see Fig. S1). The long term
evolution of global material extraction in the 20
century has been
discussed in detail in Krausmann et al. (2009); here we focus on the
more recent developments. Fig. 2a indicates that growth in global DE
has been accelerating since 2002. A comparison of growth rates during
diﬀerent periods of industrial development (Table 4) reveals that after
the post-World War II (WWII) period of rapid industrialization
(1945–1972) with annual growth rates of DE of 3.7%, growth in ma-
terial use slowed down markedly to only 1.8%/yr between 1973 and
2002. Only after 2002, growth accelerated to an average of 3.3%/yr
until 2015. The acceleration can be observed for all four material
groups, biomass and ores even show higher growth rates than in the
1950s and 1960s. Also the metabolic rate (DE per capita of population)
is growing faster than in the post-WWII period at 2.1% per year and
rose from 9.3 to 12.1 t/cap/yr between 2002 and 2015 (Fig. 3). From
2014 to 2015 global DE remained stable and per capita rates even de-
In the period since 2002, after several decades during which the
global economy grew considerably faster than material extraction, re-
lative decoupling of economic growth and material use stalled. From
1945 to 2002 material intensity (MI; DE/GDP) declined at an annual
rate of -0.9% from 2.5 to 1.5 kg/$ (Fig. 3). Between 2002 and 2015 MI
remained rather stable, ﬂuctuating around 1.5 kg/$; only in the last two
Overview of output ﬂows related to the diﬀerent types of material use, estimation procedures and allocation to domestic processed output ﬂows (DPO). See SI for
Material use Outﬂow Estimation procedure DPO
Food/population -Food waste (production, processing and household
-Calculation based on Alexander et al., 2017;FAO, 2017 -Processing
from respiration -Digestibility, metabolic reactions -Emissions
-Excrements (solid and liquid) -Digestibility, metabolic reactions -Excrements
-Water vapor -Moisture content change, respiration -Vapor
-Dead bodies -Mortality rate (UN-DESA, 2017) -End of life
Feed/livestock -Feed waste -Not considered (demand based feed estimate) -
from respiration and methanogenesis -Digestibility, metabolic reactions,
emissions from FAO, 2017
-Excrements (solid and liquid) -Digestibility, metabolic reactions -Excrements
-Water vapor -Moisture content change, respiration -Vapor
O from fossil energy carriers -Mass balanced stoichiometric calculation based on material
composition and assumptions on combustion technology
-Ashes and soot from fossil energy carriers -Mass balanced stoichiometric calculation based on material
composition and assumptions on combustion technology
O from biomass -See fossil energy carriers -Emissions
-Ashes and soot from biomass -See fossil energy carriers -Processing
-Water vapor from fossils and biomass -Moisture content of energy carriers plus oxidized hydrogen
based on stoichiometry
Stock building material/
-Tailings from ore processing -MFA database (ore grades) -Processing
from calcination (cement) -Stoichiometric relations -Emissions
-Water vapor (brick production) -Moisture content of clay -Vapor
-Wastage and losses from processing/manufacturing of
wood, metals, plastics, glass, concrete and asphalt
-MISO model (Krausmann et al., 2017b) -Processing
-Discarded (end of life) stock (incl. hibernating stocks),
after subtraction of re- and downcycled material
-MISO model (Krausmann et al., 2017b) -End of life
Other dissipative use -Deliberate application,
dissipative loss/unknown use
-Input = Output -Dissipative use
F. Krausmann et al.
years it declined again. When measuring MI in terms of real GDP (at
constant prices of 2011) instead of purchasing power parities (Fig. S5),
we even observe a considerable increase in MI (0.4%/yr) in the last 13
3.2. Material use
In Fig. 2b we show global material extraction by main use types. On
a very principal level we can distinguish two main types of material use:
Firstly, materials that are used in a dissipative way, that is, they are
consumed typically within a year after extraction. This use type com-
prises materials that are used as food for humans or feed for livestock,
as technical energy carriers for thermal conversion (fossil and biomass
materials) and other dissipative use (e.g. salt or fertilizer materials,
lubricants). Secondly, materials which accumulate in in-use stocks of
manufactured capital, such as in infrastructures, buildings, machinery
or other durable goods. These materials typically remain within the
system for more than a year up to several decades or more. We denote
these materials as stock-building materials which are used either for
building up or renewal of stocks of manufactured capital. Fig. 2b shows
that in the early 20
century the largest share of all extracted materials
has been used in a dissipative way. In 1900 these were 6 Gt/yr or 72%
of DE. Feed for livestock, mainly grazed biomass, accounted for the
largest share, followed by energy carriers, food and other dissipative
use. The share of materials used in a dissipative way continuously de-
clined and since 1993 stock-building materials dominate the global
socioeconomic metabolism. Until 2015 their share in global DE rose to
59% or 52 Gt/yr; however, roughly 9% of these stock building materials
(4.8 Gt/yr) are discarded shortly after extraction as tailings from ore
processing (Fig.2b). In 2015 the fraction of dissipative use had dimin-
ished to 41% of global DE: A material ﬂow of 15.1 Gt/yr was used to
provide technical energy, 11.1 Gt/yr were used to feed animals and
4.3 Gt/yr to produce plant based food for humans; other dissipative use
amounted to 6.1 Gt/yr, the largest part being utilized in agriculture,
e.g., crop residues used as bedding material, seeds and mineral mate-
rials used as fertilizers. Per capita of population on average 0.6 t of
primary raw materials were used to provide food, 1.5 tons to feed li-
vestock, 2 tons to provide energy, 0.9 t for other dissipative use and
7.1 tons as primary inputs to stocks in 2015 (Table 5). In 1900 the
corresponding per capita ﬂows were 0.4 t of food, 2 tons of feed,
Fig. 2. Global material ﬂows in Gt/yr and stocks in Gt from 1900 to 2015. A: material extraction by main material group; B: share of major use types in total
extraction; C: yearly net additions to stock (NAS); D: stocks of humans, livestock and manufactured capital in Gt; E: the fraction of domestic processed output that
actually originates from DE (DPO*) separate from balancing oxygen and water F: DPO by main type including balancing oxygen and water.
Average yearly growth rates of material extraction (DE) of main material groups, metabolic rate (DE/cap), material intensity (DE/GDP) and domestic processed
output (DPO*) for the periods 1900–1945, 1945–1973, 1973–2002, 2002-2015. GDP in international $ at constant prices of 1990, sourced from Maddison (2013) and
the World Bank (2017).
DE Biomass DE Fossils DE Ores DE Minerals DE Total DE/cap DE/GDP DPO*
1900-1945 0.9% 1.7% 2.1% 2.1% 1.2% 0.3% −0.9% 1.2%
1945-1973 1.6% 4.5% 5.5% 6.7% 3.7% 2.0% −0.5% 2.7%
1973-2002 1.2% 1.4% 2.1% 2.4% 1.8% 0.1% −1.3% 1.7%
2002-2015 2.1% 2.6% 5.7% 4.0% 3.3% 2.1% −0.5% 3.0%
F. Krausmann et al.
0.9 tons of energy carriers and 0.5 t other dissipative use. Only 0.9 t
were use as stock building materials in 1900.
3.3. Stocks and net additions to stock
Our analysis has shown that in the 20
metabolism has changed from a throughput system in which most
materials are used shortly after extraction to a system in which mate-
rials accumulate in stocks. Currently more than half of all materials are
used to build up long living stocks of manufactured capital. In combi-
nation with technical energy, these in-use stocks provide essential
services such as shelter, mobility, supply and discharge or commu-
nication (Haberl et al., 2017;Pauliuk and Müller, 2014). Materials re-
main in use in stocks for a certain period of time until they are dis-
carded and either become end of life waste or they are reused,
remanufactured or re- or downcycled into secondary material inputs.
We ﬁnd that 961 Gt of materials had accumulated in in-use stocks of
manufactured capital in 2015 (Fig. 2d). Most of these materials were
non-metallic minerals used in construction (concrete, asphalt, bricks,
sand and gravel) but also 33 Gt of metals, 15 Gt of wood, 3 Gt of plastics
and 3 Gt of glass were employed in in-use stocks. In the last century
(and in particular after WWII) stocks of manufactured capital have
grown at an exponential rate (by a factor 27), much faster than DE and
at a similar pace as GDP. The stock of humans and livestock is very
small in comparison to manufactured capital and, therefore, not visible
in Fig. 2d. The mass of this stock has grown by a factor of 4 since 1900
to a total of 1.0 Gt in 2015 of which livestock accounted for 61%.
Year to year changes in the size of material stocks are captured by
the ﬂow indicator NAS. The exponential growth in stocks of manu-
factured capital in the last century implies high NAS and indeed this
ﬂow has increased tremendously. Around 1900 merely 0.5 Gt of ma-
terials were added to the stock of manufactured capital each year, by
2015 this ﬂow had grown more than 69 fold to 31 Gt/yr (Fig.2c). In
contrast NAS of humans and livestock were small and increased only
three fold from 0.002 Gt/yr in 1900 to 0.006 Gt/yr in 2015. Overall,
NAS grew faster than GDP, in particular in the decades after WWII until
1973, a period, when the stock of buildings, infrastructures and ma-
chinery rapidly expanded, above all in the industrialized countries. In
this period NAS intensity of GDP grew from 0.2 kg/$ in 1945 to 0.7 kg/
$ in 1973. Since, it has gone down again and ﬂuctuates around 0.5 kg/
$. Non-metallic minerals account for by far the largest part of NAS, but
also 1.4 Gt of wood, metals, plastics and other materials were added to
in-use stocks per year in 2015, more than double the amount in 2002.
Overall NAS have been growing at a rate of 4.0%/yr in the period 2002
to 2015; the decline from 2014 to 2015 is mainly due to a reduction in
global cement production.
3.4. Domestic processed outputs
Fig. 2f shows that in 2015 almost 111 Gt/yr of material were re-
turned to the natural environment as DPO, up from 14 Gt/yr in 1900.
Only about half of the actual outﬂow of wastes and emissions originates
from DE, the other half stems from oxygen taken up during combustion
processes and from water consumed by humans and livestock. DPO*
(Fig. 2e) comprises the fraction of DPO originating from DE only; it
equals the diﬀerence between DE and NAS. With rising material inputs,
also the amount of DPO* has increased, but not to the same extent as
inputs (Fig. 3). While all materials used in a dissipative way are con-
verted into DPO shortly after extraction, the growing share of materials
used to build up stocks of manufactured capital means that an in-
creasing share of materials is returned to the environment with a con-
siderable time lag, often several decades after extraction. While in 1900
wastes and emissions still amounted to 94% of all inﬂows, this share
went down to only 65% in 2015. Between 1900 and 2015 DPO*,
therefore, increased only 8 fold from 7 to 58 Gt/yr (Fig. 2e); with the
rise in DE after 2002, also the growth rate of DPO* increased and at
3.0%/yr was higher than in previous periods (Table 4). Fig. 3 shows
that in 2015 roughly 7.8 t/cap/yr were returned to the natural en-
vironment in the form of DPO* (up from 4.4 t/cap/yr in 1900) and
0.9 kg for each $ of GDP (down from 3.5 kg/$/yr in 1900). In 2015 the
largest part of DPO* was solid waste (processing and end of life waste)
with 35%, followed by emissions (25%) and excrements (13%). Mate-
rials that are deliberately applied to natural systems such as seeds or
fertilizer minerals amounted to 6.1 Gt/yr or 11% of DPO* in 2015.
3.5. Cumulative ﬂows 1900–2015
The results in Fig. 2 show how global material ﬂows have surged
during industrialization. The massive human draw on material re-
sources in this period becomes even more obvious from a cumulative
perspective. Since 1900 humanity has extracted a total of 3400 Gt of
materials; the Sankey diagram in Fig. 4 traces these ﬂows through the
socio-economic system from extraction to use and discard to the en-
vironment: 1284 Gt of the extracted materials were biotic materials
harvested from the biosphere and 2120 Gt were mined from the litho-
sphere of which 632 Gt were of fossil origin, the reminder being ores
and minerals. Of all these extracted materials 925 Gt are still in use in
buildings, infrastructures and other artifacts (NAS), 904 Gt have been
used to feed humans and livestock and 713 Gt have been burnt to
generate energy. Overall, 2470 Gt or 72% of all materials extracted
since 1900 have been returned to the environment as waste and
emissions. 1160 Gt have been emitted to the atmosphere of which
515 Gt was water vapor and 643 Gt emissions, mostly carbon (98%).
The carbon from fossil fuels and partly also from biomass contributed to
rising atmospheric CO
concentrations and climate change. Of the
1315 Gt which have been released to terrestrial or aquatic ecosystems,
40% were of biotic origin and degradable and 60% from fossil and
mineral materials. These materials have been deposited in controlled or
Fig. 3. Development of material extraction (DE) and domestic processed output
(DPO*) per capita (right axis) and per GDP (left axis) from 1900 to 2015. GDP
in international $ at constant prices of 1990, sourced from Maddison (2013)
and The World Bank (2017).
Domestic extraction in t per capita and year by material use type in 1900, 1950,
1973, 2002 and 2015.
Food Feed Technical energy Other dissipative use Stock building
1900 0.4 2.0 0.9 0.5 0.9
1950 0.5 1.7 1.4 0.5 1.8
1973 0.5 1.7 2.0 0.7 4.1
2002 0.6 1.5 1.7 0.6 4.9
2015 0.6 1.5 2.0 0.9 7.1
F. Krausmann et al.
uncontrolled landﬁlls, emitted to water bodies, have been applied or
lost by dissipative use or simply remain in place above- or belowground
as abandoned built structures. The size of these ﬂows underlines that
humans have become a global geophysical force in the Anthropocene
(Steﬀen et al., 2007).
4.1. Uncertainty and robustness of results
We have presented a comprehensive account of the global material
ﬂows in a long time series up to 2015. Our results are consistent with
ﬁndings from other MFA studies, which investigated DE for shorter
periods and using country level data. A comparison of all available
estimates (Fig. S1a) shows that diﬀerences in the trend, size and com-
position of extraction are small. The inclusion of sand and gravel used
as subbase and base-course layer increases global DE by 7–12% above
previous estimates for 2010 (Fig. S1b), which have so far under-
estimated the extraction of these materials (Miatto et al., 2016).
Overall, due to the high level of methodological standardization and the
good quality of statistical data, estimates of global DE and other me-
tabolic ﬂows are considered robust (Fischer-Kowalski et al., 2011). Our
uncertainty assessment indicates that global DE could vary by ± 23% in
1900 to ± 16% in 2015; uncertainty is largest for non-metallic minerals
and lowest for fossil energy carriers (Fig. S2). Uncertainties for in-use
stocks are lower and range from ± 18% to ± 10% as a sensitivity
analysis and error propagation through Monte Carlo simulations show
(Fig S3). Our results on in-use stocks also agree very well with results
from previous studies investigating speciﬁc materials (see Krausmann
et al., 2017a,b). Uncertainties for waste from discarded stocks decline
from ± 20% in 1900 to ± 15% in 2015 (Fig. S4); all other DPO ﬂows,
that is, wastes and emissions from food and feed, energy and other
dissipative use, are directly derived from input ﬂows using process in-
formation and stoichiometry. We therefore assume that uncertainties
for these aggregate outﬂows are in a similar range as for the corre-
sponding DE ﬂows. Crosschecks with results from emission studies have
shown that diﬀerences are small and range between 1% and 2% for
cumulative emissions of CO
over the observed period (see SI).
Overall we conclude that our results and the discussed trends over time
4.2. Phases of the global metabolic transition
The long term perspective reveals that diﬀerent phases in the global
metabolic transition can be discerned, periods of fast growth of
metabolic rates alternating with periods of slow growth or stable rates
(Table 4;Fig. 3). The most recent data on global material ﬂows pre-
sented here indicate an acceleration of global material use since the
beginning of the 21
century. This acceleration, which took oﬀin 2002,
was not a short term phenomenon but continues since more than a
decade; only in the last year we ﬁnd a stagnation of DE. Our results
show that the impact of the global ﬁnancial crisis and the recession in
2008 on global material extraction and use was only moderate and did
neither lead to a short term decline in DE nor to a long term decel-
eration of its growth. A cumulative perspective underlines the sig-
niﬁcance of the observed acceleration: In the 13 years between 2002
and 2015 alone over 1000 Gt of materials were extracted, that is, almost
one third of the total extraction since 1900. Growth was fastest for non-
metallic minerals and metals, which relates mainly to the fast expansion
of the built environment occurring in China and other emerging
economies (Huang et al., 2013;Miatto et al., 2016;Schandl and West,
2010). In contrast, materials used to produce technical energy and in
particular fossil energy carriers were growing slower than in the 1950s
and 1960s, which may be related to a shift from coal towards oil and
gas, improvements in energy eﬃciency motivated by climate change
mitigation and structural change in the economies (Jackson et al., 2017;
Voigt et al., 2014). Quite remarkably, also the per capita use of mate-
rials used to produce food and feed is on the rise after a long period of
slow decline, reﬂecting mainly a new dynamic in the change of dietary
patterns towards a higher consumption of meat in emerging economies
(Tilman and Clark, 2014).
The acceleration in global material extraction since 2002 is mir-
rored in the rise of outputs of wastes and emissions, although the share
of DE that is returned to the environment in the form of DPO* has been
steadily declining, since an increasing share of DE accumulates in stocks
of manufactured capital. Overall, we ﬁnd that humanity has deposited
or emitted the huge amount of 2500 Gt of DPO* to the global en-
vironment since 1900 and 28% of this only between 2002 and 2015.
The environmental pressure resulting from these wastes and emissions
is large and contributes signiﬁcantly to pushing humanity beyond
planetary boundaries of a safe operating space (Steﬀen et al., 2015).
The MFA approach provides a comprehensive perspective on all out-
ﬂows to the environment. It reveals that emissions from fossil fuels,
which are one of the few outﬂows well documented in the literature
(Boden et al., 2009;Smith et al., 2011), currently account for only 15%
of DPO*. The outﬂow of solid waste from construction and demolition,
industry and households, for example, amounted to 20 Gt/yr or 35% of
DPO* in 2015 and was growing at a particularly fast pace (4.2%/yr)
since 2002. The large and growing DPO ﬂows underline the need for
absolute reductions of resource inputs, which might be achieved via a
more circular economy which reduces wastes and the demand for pri-
mary inputs via recycling and improved resource eﬃciency (Akenji
et al., 2016;Ghisellini et al., 2016).
We ﬁnd that stocks of manufactured capital are of particular sig-
niﬁcance for the long term dynamics of global material ﬂows. Stock
growth constitutes a major challenge for a reduction in the demand for
materials, since stocks of manufactured capital have a long service life
time and their maintenance and use induces constant ﬂows of materials
and energy required to utilize them (Haberl et al., 2017;Pauliuk and
Müller, 2014). The rise in stock building materials has resulted in an
exponential increase in the size of global stocks of manufactured capital
in the last century. Between 2002 and 2015 stock growth has ac-
celerated from 19 to 31 Gt/yr. By 2015 roughly 961 Gt of materials had
accumulated in in-use stocks and 40% of the net addition to the global
stock of manufactured capital since 1900 occurred in the period be-
tween 2002 and 2015. Building and maintaining the growing stocks
and above all providing services like shelter, mobility, communication
or discharge from them requires large amounts of energy and causes
emissions (Müller et al., 2013;Pauliuk and Müller, 2014). Due
their long lifetime stocks built up today have an impact on future re-
source demand and can create lock in situations for resource
Fig. 4. Sankey diagram showing the cumulative ﬂow of materials through the
global economy from extraction to use and output of wastes and emission from
1900 to 2015. Note that NAS of humans and livestock (1 Gt) are not visible.
F. Krausmann et al.
requirements (Lin et al., 2017). Growing stocks impede the closing of
material loops since recycling ﬂows cannot match input ﬂows (Haas
et al., 2015), but the fast increase in stocks during the last decades also
implies that when these stocks reach the end of their lifetime, large
amounts of end of life waste will accrue. A previous study using the
MISO model has estimated that between 2010 and 2030 up to 240 Gt of
waste material from discarded stocks of manufactured capital may
become available, almost as much as in the whole 20
(Krausmann et al., 2017b). This imposes a challenge for waste treat-
ment and may constitute a major pressure for the environment. If ap-
propriate measures are taken, however, these materials could also be-
come available as secondary raw material substituting for primary
The acceleration of growth in material ﬂows has stalled improve-
ments in material intensity of the economy. Per capita material use and
outﬂows of wastes and emissions have been growing at a similar or
even higher pace as in the post WWII era, in which industrialization and
rising consumption in the industrialized core countries caused the
average global metabolic rate to rise (Schaﬀartzik et al., 2014). The
recent growth in the metabolic rate is a result of economic development
in the emerging economies and above all in China, while domestic
material use in industrialized countries is stable or even declining
(Giljum et al., 2014;Schandl et al., 2017). An evaluation of country
level DMC data reported by UNEP (2016) shows that China alone ac-
counted for 61% of global gross increase in DMC of 21 Gt/yr between
2002 and 2010, followed by India with 8% and Brazil with 4%. Gross
growth of DMC is deﬁned here as the increase in DMC between 2002
and 2010 in 165 countries which exhibited DMC growth in this period.
In major high income countries, in contrast, DMC declined, but global
gross decline (62 countries) in the same period was much lower than
gross increase. It amounted to 2.4 Gt/yr to which the USA contributed
43%, Japan 11% and Italy 9%. In spite of the recent catch up of
emerging economies it is important to keep in mind that high income
countries still appropriate a disproportionately high share of all mate-
rials. In 2010 OECD countries directly used 28% of all global DE; this
share even rises to 38% if indirect ﬂows (material footprints) are taken
into account (UNEP, 2016). Most low income countries, in contrast,
have a very low level of material use per capita paired with very
moderate growth rates (Giljum et al., 2014). UNEP (2016) data show
that in around 50 countries of the Global South inhabiting a total po-
pulation of 1.4 billion DMC was below 4 t/cap/yr compared to a global
average of 10 t/cap/yr in 2010. Per capita DMC in these countries on
average grew by only 0.7%/yr in the period 2002–2010.
4.3. Towards a global convergence of material use patterns?
Our results suggest that the global economy may have entered a
new phase in the metabolic transition towards a global convergence of
resource use patterns typical for industrialized countries (Krausmann
et al., 2008b;Schaﬀartzik et al., 2014). This raises the question if the
period of relative decoupling of economic growth and material use and
more or less stable global average metabolic rates in the 1980s and
1990s has come to an end. While such a convergence of metabolic
patterns can contribute to rising levels of material wealth in the
countries of the Global South, it also has the potential to drive up the
global demand for primary materials beyond a safe operating space of
material resource use, unless signiﬁcantly more material and energy
eﬃcient ways to provide services from the extracted materials can be
established (UNEP, 2017). In order to provide a rough but empirically
grounded estimate of what such a global convergence of metabolic
patterns paired with a continuation of past trends in eﬃciency gains
might imply for global material demand, we can use the information
from our material ﬂow database and build a scenario of the develop-
ment of global DE until 2050. The comprehensive historical informa-
tion on global stocks and ﬂows of materials allows to develop stock-
driven scenarios based solely on physical data, in which we estimate the
size of ﬂows on the basis of the materials and energy required to build
up and maintain the physical structures of society and on assumptions
about the eﬃciency with which services are provided from stocks. This
distinguishes our approach from the few existing scenarios which
simply combined per capita ﬂows and population numbers (UNEP,
2011) or were based on a stock ﬂow model using economic information
on capital stocks and ﬂow intensities (Schandl et al., 2016). To estimate
the demand for primary materials in 2050 we made the following basic
assumptions, which are presented in more detail in Table S8 in the SI:
•Population grows to 9.1 bio by 2050 (medium variant of the United
Nations (2015) population projection).
•Food and feed: By 2050 global average per capita food supply
converges at the level prevailing in industrialized countries.
Extrapolating historic trends since 1961, we assume that the con-
version eﬃciency of primary biomass into plant and animal based
food products improves by 12% and 30%, respectively.
•Manufactured capital and stock building materials: By 2050 per
capita stock size converges at a level typical for industrialized
countries in 2010 (Krausmann et al., 2017b). This enlarges the
global in use-use stocks of manufactured capital to 3140 Gt by 2050.
Assuming that stock growth follows an exponential trend, un-
changed lifetime distribution of stocks and end-of-life recycling
rates, this implies an increase in the input of primary and secondary
materials for building up new stocks to 106 Gt/yr and for main-
tenance to 57 Gt/yr until 2050. We further assume that the share of
recycled materials in inputs to stock doubles to 20%, that the share
of processing and manufacturing losses of primary materials re-
mains constant and that the material composition of inputs to stocks
•Technical energy carriers: The demand for primary energy carriers is
linked to building up and maintaining stocks of manufactured ca-
pital and to providing services from them (Pauliuk and Müller,
2014). Based on sectoral energy use data from IEA (2016) we as-
sume that 29% of global ﬁnal energy consumption is used for
building up and maintaining these stocks; 71% are used for pro-
viding services from these stocks (e.g., regulation of room tem-
perature, light, mobility, communication, supply and discharge). We
assume that trends of eﬃciency improvements observed between
1971 and 2014 continue until 2050 following a power function. In
combination with a shift in the energy mix towards less material
(with respect to energy carriers) intensive energy forms (e.g. natural
gas, hydropower, photovoltaics) this results in a reduction of energy
intensity (ﬁnal energy per material input or in-use stock) by 41% to
•Other dissipative use: Growth in the per capita demand for materials
for other dissipative use observed in the past decades continues,
following a linear trend.
Based on these assumptions we calculated the demand for primary
materials to provide food and feed, technical energy, to build up and
renew stocks of manufactured capital and for other dissipative use, i.e.
of global DE. The results of this global convergence scenario exercise
are presented in Fig. 5. While population is expected to increase by 34%
from 2015 to 2050, the yearly demand for crops rises by 44% and that
for forage by 95%, the extraction of fossil energy carriers increases by
90% and that of stock building materials even by 194%. Overall DE
increases by 140% to around 218 Gt/yr in 2050, resulting in a cumu-
lative extraction of 1000 Gt biomass and 4100 Gt fossil and mineral
materials in 35 years. Our scenario yields a considerably larger demand
for primary materials than previous scenario calculations estimated. A
very rough scenario assuming a global convergence of metabolic rates
at the level of industrialized countries in the year 2000 distinguishing a
high and a low population density trajectory arrived at 140 Gt/yr for
2050 (UNEP, 2011). A more sophisticated business as usual scenario
also based on a stock-ﬂow modelling approach, but relying on monetary
F. Krausmann et al.
information on capital stock formation and assumptions on investments
and resource intensities of capital stocks estimated global material de-
mand in 2050 at 180 Gt/yr (Schandl et al., 2016).
While the development of DE from 2015 to 2050 in the scenario
(Fig. 5) seems like a continuation of historic trends, the scenario is not
designed as a business as usual scenario, but assumes considerable
change in metabolic dynamics, since it implies that stock growth comes
to an abrupt halt in industrialized economies and further accelerates in
the Global South. The assumed global convergence in global metabolic
patterns results in a 2.4-fold increase of material extraction until 2050.
The global metabolic rate doubles to 22 t/cap/yr, which is more than
currently observed in most industrialized countries and far beyond the
global target corridor of 6–8 t/cap/yr, which has been proposed by the
International Resource Panel as a goal for 2050 in order to remain
within a safe operating space (IRP, 2014). The largest part of the
218 Gt/yr of primary materials that would be extracted in 2050 is sand,
gravel and rock. While these materials have a comparatively low re-
lative impact on the environment, the sheer amount of annual extrac-
tion is worrisome, and increasingly caveats are raised concerning local
scarcity, environmental and biodiversity impacts and social pressure
related to their extraction (Gavriletea, 2017;Torres et al., 2017). Also
pressure on global croplands, grasslands and forests would rise con-
siderably by increasing biomass harvest by 66% (Haberl et al., 2007).
The annual demand for fossil energy carriers would double; that of
metals even triple, exceeding extraction rates considered sustainable
(e.g., Henckens et al. (2014)). The outﬂow of wastes and emissions
(DPO*) would double to around 112 Gt/yr, which is considerably less
than inputs, due to the massive expansion of stocks of manufactured
capital. Krausmann et al. (2017b) have estimated that such a devel-
opment could drive up cumulative CO
emissions by 53% to 542 Gt.
This exceeds the remaining global carbon budget assumed to comply
with a 50% probability that the 2 °C target can be met by 30–132%
(IPCC, 2014). Not only the environmental but also social pressures as-
sociated with such a rise in material use are likely to exacerbate
(Muradian et al., 2012). Overall, we do not consider this a very feasible
scenario, unless the demand for primary materials and output of waste
and emissions can be drastically reduced through e.g., ambitious re-
source eﬃciency measures, far reaching closing of material loops or
increases in the service live-time and more intense use of stocks
(Allwood et al., 2011;Hatﬁeld-Dodds et al., 2017;UNEP, 2017). Fi-
nally, rather than convergence, as assumed in the scenario, we
currently observe increasing inequality in resource use both across
(Duro et al., 2018;Hubacek et al., 2017) and within countries
(Wiedenhofer et al., 2017). The upward trend in global DE since 2002
results from infrastructure development and rising consumption in a
few countries only and large fractions of the global population hardly
participate in this development at all (Giljum et al., 2014).
During industrialization, humanity has become a geophysical force
on a planetary scale. Our data show, how the size of societies meta-
bolism has multiplied since 1900, resulting in a massive draw on ma-
terial resources from the biosphere and the lithosphere and corre-
sponding outﬂows of wastes and emissions. We ﬁnd that biophysical
growth has been speeding up signiﬁcantly since the turn of the 21
century, with growth rates of material ﬂows comparable to the decades
after WWII, a period which has been denoted as “Great Acceleration”
(Steﬀen et al., 2007). Roughly one third of all materials that have been
extracted or discarded since 1900 have been mobilized between 2002
and 2015 only. This acceleration may be seen as heralding a newly
invigorated phase in the global metabolic transition towards an in-
dustrial metabolic proﬁle. Such a convergence of metabolic patterns
might result in a further doubling of DE and DPO until 2050. Although
an agreement of what can be considered a sustainable level of global
material extraction is lacking, such a stark rise is clearly beyond a level
of below 100 Gt/yr considered as potentially sustainable (Bringezu,
2015). Such an increase also does not comply with urgently needed
eﬀorts to phase out fossil fuels in order to mitigate climate change. Our
results underline that a sustainable pathway requires urgent action,
fostering a continuous and considerable reduction of material ﬂows in
industrialized countries, as these countries directly and indirectly still
appropriate the largest and a disproportionally high share of key ma-
terials extracted globally (Giljum et al., 2014;Schandl et al., 2017). In
addition to that, less material intensive provision of essential services in
the emerging economies of the Global South, whose economic devel-
opment is a driving force behind the recent rise in global DE, is re-
quired. Incremental change and moderate eﬃciency gains, such as
those achieved in the past, most likely will not be suﬃcient to absorb
the demand for services from material use arising in the Global South
The research was funded by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF),
Project Nr. P27590 and from the European Research Council ERC
(MAT_STOCKS, grant 741950).
Akenji, L., Bengtsson, M., Bleischwitz, R., Tukker, A., Schandl, H., 2016. Ossiﬁed mate-
rialism: introduction to the special volume on absolute reductions in materials
throughput and emissions. J. Clean. Prod. 132, 1–12.
Alexander, P., Brown, C., Arneth, A., Finnigan, J., Moran, D., Rounsevell, M.D., 2017.
Losses, ineﬃciencies and waste in the global food system. Agric. Syst. 153, 190–200.
Allwood, J.M., Ashby, M.F., Gutowski, T.G., Worrell, E., 2011. Material eﬃciency: a
white paper. Resour. Conserv. Recycl. 55, 362–381. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.
Boden, T.A., Marland, G., Andres, R.J., 2009. Global, Regional, and National Fossil-Fuel
CO2 Emissions. Carbon Dioxide Inf. Anal. Cent. Oak Ridge Natl. Lab. US Dep. Energy
Oak Ridge Tenn USAhttps://doi.org/10.3334/CDIAC/00001_V2016.
Bringezu, S., 2015. Possible target corridor for sustainable use of global material.
Resources 4, 25–54. https://doi.org/10.3390/resources4010025.
Bringezu, S., van de Sand, I., Schütz, H., Bleischwitz, R., Moll, S., 2009. Analysing global
resource use of national and regional economies across various levels. In: Bringezu,
S., Bleischwitz, R. (Eds.), Sustainable Resource Management. Global Trends, Visions
and Policies. Greenleaf Publishing, Sheﬃeld pp. 10–52.
Duro, J.A., Schaﬀartzik, A., Krausmann, F., 2018. Metabolic inequality and its impact on
eﬃcient contraction and convergence of international material resource use. Ecol.
Econ. 145, 430–440.
Eurostat, 2013. Economy-Wide Material Flow Accounts (EW-MFA). Compilation Guide
2013. European Statistical Oﬃce, Luxembourg.
Fig. 5. Global convergence scenario of global material extraction in Gt/yr by
main material groups (left axis) and in t/cap/yr (right axis). 1900–2015 historic
data, 2016–2050 scenario results. The scenario assumes a convergence of diet
patterns and of per capita stocks of manufactured capital at the 2010 level of
industrialized countries by 2050, a continuation of past trends in energy and
material eﬃciency and a growth of global population to 9.1 bio.
F. Krausmann et al.
FAO, 2017. FAOSTAT: Food and Agriculture Data. URL. . Food and Agriculture
Organization of the United Nations (Accessed 18 June 2017). http://faostat3.fao.
Fischer-Kowalski, M., Krausmann, F., Giljum, S., Lutter, S., Mayer, A., Bringezu, S.,
Moriguchi, Y., Schütz, H., Schandl, H., Weisz, H., 2011. Methodology and indicators
of economy-wide material ﬂow accounting. J. Ind. Ecol. 15, 855–876. https://doi.
Gavriletea, M.D., 2017. Environmental impacts of sand exploitation. Analysis of sand
market. Sustainability 9, 1118.
Ghisellini, P., Cialani, C., Ulgiati, S., 2016. A review on circular economy: the expected
transition to a balanced interplay of environmental and economic systems. J. Clean.
Prod. 114, 11–32.
Giljum, S., Dittrich, M., Lieber, M., Lutter, S., 2014. Global patterns of material ﬂows and
their socio-economic and environmental implications: a MFA study on all countries
world-wide from 1980 to 2009. Resources 3, 319–339. https://doi.org/10.3390/
Haas, W., Krausmann, F., Wiedenhofer, D., Heinz, M., 2015. How circular is the global
economy? An assessment of material ﬂows, waste production, and recycling in the
European Union and the World in 2005. J. Ind. Ecol. 19, 765–777. https://doi.org/
Haberl, H., Erb, K.H., Krausmann, F., Gaube, V., Bondeau, A., Plutzar, C., Gingrich, S.,
Lucht, W., Fischer-Kowalski, M., 2007. Quantifying and mapping the human appro-
priation of net primary production in Earth’s terrestrial ecosystems. Proc. Natl. Acad.
Sci. U. S. A. 104, 12942–12947.
Haberl, H., Wiedenhofer, D., Erb, K.-H., Görg, C., Krausmann, F., 2017. The material
stock–ﬂow–service nexus: a new approach for tackling the decoupling conundrum.
Sustainability 9, 1049. https://doi.org/10.3390/su9071049.
Hashimoto, S., Moriguchi, Y., 2004. Proposal of six indicators of material cycles for de-
scribing society’s metabolism: from the viewpoint of material ﬂow analysis. Resour.
Conserv. Recycl. 40, 185–200.
Hatﬁeld-Dodds, S., Schandl, H., Newth, D., Obersteiner, M., Cai, Y., Baynes, T., West, J.,
Havlik, P., 2017. Assessing global resource use and greenhouse emissions to 2050,
with ambitious resource eﬃciency and climate mitigation policies. J. Clean. Prod.
Henckens, M., Driessen, P.P.J., Worrell, E., 2014. Metal scarcity and sustainability, ana-
lyzing the necessity to reduce the extraction of scarce metals. Resour. Conserv.
Recycl. 93, 1–8.
Huang, T., Shi, F., Tanikawa, H., Fei, J., Han, J., 2013. Materials demand and environ-
mental impact of buildings construction and demolition in China based on dynamic
material ﬂow analysis. Resour. Conserv. Recycl. 72, 91–101.
Hubacek, K., Baiocchi, G., Feng, K., Castillo, R.M., Sun, L., Xue, J., 2017. Global carbon
inequality. Energy Ecol. Environ. 2, 361–369.
IEA, 2016. World Energy Statistics and Balances 2016. International Energy Agency
IIA, 1922. International Yearbook of Agricultural Statistics 1909-1921. Institut
International d’Agriculture, Rome.
IPCC, 2014. In: Edenhofer, O., Pichs-Madruga, R., Sokona, Y., Farahani, E., Kadner, S.,
Seyboth, K., Adler, A., Baum, I., Brunner, S., Eickemeier, P., Kriemann, B.,
Savolainen, J., Schlömer, S., von Stechow, C., Zwickel, T., Minx, J.C. (Eds.), Climate
Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change. Contribution of Working Group III to the
Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
IRP, 2014. Managing and Conserving the Natural Resource Base for Sustained Economic
and Social Development. International Resource Panel / United Nations Environment
Jackson, R.B., Le Quéré, C., Andrew, R.M., Canadell, J.G., Peters, G.P., Roy, J., Wu, L.,
2017. Warning signs for stabilizing global CO2 emissions. Environ. Res. Lett. 12,
Kelly, T.D., Matos, G.R., 2017. Historical Statistics for Mineral Commodities in the United
States (2017 Version): U.S. Geological Survey Data Series 140. URL. (Accessed 13
April 2017). http://minerals.usgs.gov/minerals/pubs/historical-statistics/ .
Krausmann, F., Erb, K.-H., Gingrich, S., Lauk, C., Haberl, H., 2008a. Global patterns of
socioeconomic biomass ﬂows in the year 2000: a comprehensive assessment of
supply, consumption and constraints. Ecol. Econ. 65, 471–487. https://doi.org/10.
Krausmann, F., Fischer-Kowalski, M., Schandl, H., Eisenmenger, N., 2008b. The global
sociometabolic transition. J. Ind. Ecol. 12, 637–656. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1530-
Krausmann, F., Gingrich, S., Eisenmenger, N., Erb, K.H., Haberl, H., Fischer-Kowalski, M.,
2009. Growth in global materials use, GDP and population during the 20th century.
Ecol. Econ. 68, 2696–2705.
Krausmann, F., Erb, K.-H., Gingrich, S., Haberl, H., Bondeau, A., Gaube, V., Lauk, C.,
Plutzar, C., Searchinger, T., 2013. Global human appropriation of net primary pro-
duction doubled in the 20th century. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U. S. A. 110,
Krausmann, F., Weisz, H., Eisenmenger, N., 2016. Transitions in sociometabolic regimes
throughout human history. Social Ecology. Society-Nature Relations Across Time and
Space. Springer International Publishing, Cham pp. 63–92.
Krausmann, F., Schandl, H., Eisenmenger, N., Giljum, S., Jackson, T., 2017a. material
ﬂow accounting: measuring global material use for sustainable development. Annu.
Rev. Environ. Resour. 42, 647–675. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-environ-
Krausmann, F., Wiedenhofer, D., Lauk, C., Haas, W., Tanikawa, H., Fishman, T., Miatto,
A., Schandl, H., Haberl, H., 2017b. Global socioeconomic material stocks rise 23-fold
over the 20th century and require half of annual resource use. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci.
U. S. A. 114, 1880–1885. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1613773114.
Lin, C., Liu, G., Müller, D.B., 2017. Characterizing the role of built environment stocks in
human development and emission growth. Resour. Conserv. Recycl. 123, 67–72.
Maddison, A., 2013. The Maddison-Project, 2013 Version. URL. (Accessed 08 December
Matthews, E., Amann, C., Bringezu, S., Fischer-Kowalski, M., Hüttler, W., Kleijn, R.,
Moriguchi, Y., Ottke, C., Rodenburg, E., Rogich, D., 2000. The Weight of Nations:
Material Outﬂows from Industrial Economies. World Resources Institute,
Miatto, A., Fishman, T., Tanikawa, H., Schandl, H., 2016. Global patterns and trends for
non-metallic minerals used for construction. J. Ind. Ecol. 21, 924–937. https://doi.
Moriguchi, Y., Hashimoto, S., 2016. Material ﬂow analysis and waste management.
Taking Stock of Industrial Ecology. Springer, Cham pp. 247–262.
Müller, D.B., Liu, G., Løvik, A.N., Modaresi, R., Pauliuk, S., Steinhoﬀ, F.S., Brattebø, H.,
2013. Carbon emissions of infrastructure development. Environ. Sci. Technol. 47,
Müller, E., Hilty, L.M., Widmer, R., Schluep, M., Faulstich, M., 2014. Modeling metal
stocks and ﬂows: a review of dynamic material ﬂow analysis methods. Environ. Sci.
Technol. 48, 2102–2113.
Muradian, R., Walter, M., Martinez-Alier, J., 2012. Hegemonic transitions and global
shifts in social metabolism: implications for resource-rich countries. Introduction to
the special section. Glob. Environ. Change 22, 559–567.
Pauliuk, S., Müller, D.B., 2014. The role of in-use stocks in the social metabolism and in
climate change mitigation. Glob. Environ. Change 24, 132–142. https://doi.org/10.
Ščasný, M., Kovanda, J., Hák, T., 2003. Material ﬂow accounts, balances and derived
indicators for the Czech Republic during the 1990s: results and recommendations for
methodological improvements. Ecol. Econ. 45, 41–57. https://doi.org/10.1016/
Schaﬀartzik, A., Mayer, A., Gingrich, S., Eisenmenger, N., Loy, C., Krausmann, F., 2014.
The global metabolic transition: regional patterns and trends of global material ﬂows,
1950–2010. Glob. Environ. Change 26, 87–97. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gloenvcha.
Schandl, H., West, J., 2010. Resource use and resource eﬃciency in the Asia-Paciﬁc re-
gion. Glob. Environ. Change 20, 636–647.
Schandl, H., Hatﬁeld-Dodds, S., Wiedmann, T., Geschke, A., Cai, Y., West, J., Newth, D.,
Baynes, T., Lenzen, M., Owen, A., 2016. Decoupling global environmental pressure
and economic growth: scenarios for energy use, materials use and carbon emissions.
J. Clean. Prod. 132, 45–56. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2015.06.100.
Schandl, H., Fischer-Kowalski, M., West, J., Giljum, S., Dittrich, M., Eisenmenger, N.,
Geschke, A., Lieber, M., Wieland, H., Schaﬀartzik, A., et al., 2017. Global material
ﬂows and resource productivity: forty years of evidence. J. Ind. Ecol. https://doi.org/
10.1111/jiec.12626. online ﬁrst.
Smith, S.J., Aardenne, J., van, Klimont, Z., Andres, R.J., Volke, A., Delgado Arias, S.,
2011. Anthropogenic sulfur dioxide emissions: 1850–2005. Atmos. Chem. Phys. 11,
Steﬀen, W., Crutzen, P.J., McNeill, J.R., 2007. The anthropocene: are humans now
overwhelming the great forces of nature. AMBIO 36, 614–621.
Steﬀen, W., Richardson, K., Rockström, J., Cornell, S.E., Fetzer, I., Bennett, E.M., Biggs,
R., Carpenter, S.R., de Vries, W., de Wit, C.A., 2015. Planetary boundaries: guiding
human development on a changing planet. Science 347, 1259855.
The World Bank, 2017. World Development Indicators. URL. (Accessed 22 August
Tilman, D., Clark, M., 2014. Global diets link environmental sustainability and human
health. Nature 515, 518–522. https://doi.org/10.1038/nature13959.
Torres, A., Brandt, J., Lear, K., Liu, J., 2017. A looming tragedy of the sand commons.
Science 357, 970–971. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.aao0503.
UN-DESA, 2017. World Population Prospects: The 2017 Revision. DVD Edition.
Department of Economic and Social Aﬀairs, Population Division, United Nations.
UNEP, 2011. Decoupling Natural Resource Use and Environmental Impacts from
Economic Growth. United Nations Environmment Programme, Paris.
UNEP, 2016. Global Material Flows and Resource Productivity. Assessment Report for the
UNEP International Resource Panel. United Nations Environment Programme, Paris.
UNEP, 2017. Resource Eﬃciency: Potential and Economic Implications. International
Resource Panel Report. United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Paris.
United Nations, 2015. 2015 Revision of World Population Prospects. Department of
Economic and Social Aﬀairs, Population Division, New York.
UNSD, 2013. Energy Statistics Database. United Nations Statistics Division, New York.
Voigt, S., De Cian, E., Schymura, M., Verdolini, E., 2014. Energy intensity developments
in 40 major economies: structural change or technology improvement? Energy Econ.
Wackernagel, M., Schulz, N.B., Deumling, D., Linares, A.C., Jenkins, M., Kapos, V.,
Monfreda, C., Loh, J., Myers, N., Norgaard, R., Randers, J., 2002. Tracking the eco-
logical overshoot of the human economy. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 99, 9266–9271.
Wiedenhofer, D., Guan, D., Liu, Z., Meng, J., Zhang, N., Wei, Y.-M., 2017. Unequal
household carbon footprints in China. Nat. Clim. Change 7, 75–80.
F. Krausmann et al.