Economy-Wide Material Flow Analysis (EW-MFA)

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The Economy-Wide Material Flow Analysis (EW-MFA) method has become one of the most widely used material accounting methods due to its development and adoption by Eurostat. European countries submit national material flow data to Eurostat using this well-documented accounting method. This has facilitated uptake by researchers, including academics in the field of urban sustainability. This method has also become known as the 'Eurostat method', and its main features are the inclusion of all of the physical material flows moving into or out of a system (thus the 'economy-wide' label). Data is captured at a fairly detailed level (e.g. bananas or limestone), but top-level indicators within this method aggregate at higher level groups (e.g. biomass or non-metallic minerals). Water flows are intentionally excluded, though, due to the difficulty in separating natural water cycles from human water cycles, as well as the tendency of these large volumes to obscure some of the indicators when grouped together with other flows. On an urban level this method has at times been modified slightly (e.g. Barles 2009).

Compared to more narrow MFAs or SFAs, this method has significant data requirements in order to capture the entire, economy-wide (or city-wide in case of urban studies) material flows. However, a more holistic picture of the city’s resources becomes available through this all-encompassing approach. Cities do remain a black box, and other methods are required to understand what happens inside this box.


Title Type Author(s) Year
Examining urban metabolism: A material flow perspective on cities and their sustainability Journal Article Cui et al. 2019
Urban Metabolism of Intermediate Cities: The Material Flow Analysis, Hinterlands and the Logistics‐Hub Function of Rennes and Le Mans (France) Journal Article Bahers et al. 2018
Estimating the Potential for Urban Mining in Paris Region Conference Paper Vincent Augiseau Sabine Barles 2017
Urban Metabolism for Resource-Efficient Cities: from Theory to Implementation Report Musango et al. 2017
Urban metabolism: A review with reference to Cape Town Journal Article Currie et al. 2017
Using Web‐Based Technology to Bring Hands‐On Urban Material Flow Analysis to the Classroom Journal Article Villalba and Hoekman 2017
Cape Town's Metabolism: Insights from a Material Flow Analysis Journal Article Hoekman and von Blottnitz 2016
Enhanced Performance of the Eurostat Method for Comprehensive Assessment of Urban Metabolism: A Material Flow Analysis of Amsterdam Journal Article Voskamp et al. 2016
Lisbon's womb: an approach to the city metabolism in the turn to the twentieth century Journal Article Niza et al. 2016
Material Flow Analysis in Quebec: Methods and operationalising challenges in a circular economy perspective Thesis Audrey Morris 2016
Modeling of material and energy flows in the Metropolitan City of Milan, Italy using urban metabolism approaches Conference Paper Igor Tereshchenko Gabriela Fernandez 2016
Towards more comprehensive urban environmental assessments: exploring the complex relationship between urban and metabolic profiles Thesis Aristide Athanassiadis 2016
Metabolism of Brussels-Capital Region: identification of flows, economic actors and activities on the territory and tracks of reflection for resource optimisation Report Environnement et al. 2015
Towards Urban Resource Flow Estimates in Data Scarce Environments: The Case of African Cities Journal Article Currie et al. 2015
Understanding Urban Metabolism: A Tool for Urban Planning Book Chrysoulakis et al. 2015
Urban Economies Resource Productivity and Decoupling: Metabolism Trends of 1996--2011 in Sweden, Stockholm, and Gothenburg Journal Article Kalmykova et al. 2015
Urban-Scale Material Flow Analysis in a South African Context: A Cape Town Feasibility Study Thesis Paul Hoekman 2015
Analysis of Egyptian Cities towards Sustainable Urban Metabolism Conference Paper Nourhan Magdy 2014
Concepts and methodologies for measuring the sustainability of cities Journal Article Yetano Roche et al. 2014
Incorporating Bio-Physical Sciences into a Decision Support Tool for Sustainable Urban Planning Journal Article Mitraka et al. 2014
Spatial allocation of material flow analysis in residential developments: a case study of Kildare County, Ireland Journal Article Roy et al. 2014
Data Mining for Material Flow Analysis: Application in the Territorial Breakdown of French Regions Thesis Brinduşa Smaranda 2013
Sustainable Urban Metabolism Book Ferrão and Fernández 2013
Sustainable urban metabolism as a link between bio-physical sciences and urban planning: The BRIDGE project Journal Article Chrysoulakis et al. 2013
The physical structure of urban economies — Comparative assessment [Report] Report Niza et al. 2013
Urban metabolism assessment tools for resource efficient urban infrastructure Report Robinson et al. 2013
Urban metabolism: A review of research methodologies Journal Article Yan Zhang 2013
From Eradication To Intervention: Urban Informal Ecosystem Thesis Shannon Royden-Turner 2012
Material flow accounting in an Irish city-region 1992-2002 Journal Article Browne et al. 2011
The Material Consumption of Singapore’s Economy: An Industrial Ecology Approach Book Section Chertow et al. 2011
Urban Metabolism in China Achieving Dematerialization and Decarbonization in Suzhou Journal Article Liang and Zhang 2011
Material flow accounting of an Indian village Journal Article Kestemont and Kerkhove 2010
Society, energy and materials: the contribution of urban metabolism studies to sustainable urban development issues Journal Article Sabine Barles 2010
Assessment of total urban metabolism and metabolic inefficiency in an Irish city-region Journal Article Browne et al. 2009
Urban Metabolism of Paris and Its Region Journal Article Sabine Barles 2009
Urban metabolism: Methodological Advances in Urban Material Flow Accounting Based on the Lisbon Case Study Journal Article Niza et al. 2009
Metabolism of Neighborhoods Journal Article Codoban and Kennedy 2008
Measuring the ecological performance of cities and territories: the metabolism of Paris and Ile-de-France Report Sabine Barles 2007
Material Flow Analysis of the City of Hamburg Conference Paper Hammer et al. 2003
Material Flow Accounting of Greater London Thesis Benjamin Bongardt 2002
Material Flow Accounting and Information for Environmental Policies in the City of Stockholm Conference Paper Burström et al. 1997