ABSTRACT

As indicated by the case studies presented in the previous chapters, the systematic investigation into material flows and stocks of anthropogenic systems allows a new view of the anthroposphere. Material flow analysis (MFA) and STAN are key tools for this new view: they allow linking of anthropogenic activities with resource consumption and environmental loadings. If the important flows and stocks of materials used by man are uniformly analyzed by MFA as described in this handbook, and if information of many individual MFAs is linked together to large databases on material sources, pathways, intermediate stocks, and final sinks, a more efficient use of resources will become possible. On one hand, MFA can be used to explore different cultural systems and economies with diverse metabolisms. On the other hand, MFA can be applied within one cultural system to analyze the various sectors of primary and secondary production, the service sector, consumers, and governments. By combining the two approaches, completely new schemes of utilizing resources become feasible. Also, the combination serves as a powerful tool for policy decision support in the fields of resource efficiency, urban planning, and environmental protection. This chapter points out some of the fascinating future potentials associated with MFA.