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5 Material Flows Information in the United States his chapter describes the history of data gathering on material flows and the current public data sources for material flows in the United States. The chapter also discusses gaps in data that must be ad- dressed if an ultimate goal of sound public policy making is to be achieved through implementation of a system of national material flows accounts. Humans have processed and used materials since the dawn of civili- zation. For most of this time, small populations and low levels of technol- ogy meant that rates of materials extraction, use, and disposal were low. The situation changed significantly as the Industrial Revolution began. In the late nineteenth century, the tracking of sources of materials to feed economic growth in the United States became important; then, in the lat- ter half of the twentieth century materials use exploded (Figure 1.1~. EVOLUTION OF MATERIALS DATA In 1910, after the establishment of the U.S. Bureau of Mines, the statis- tical work on metals and minerals that was begun by the U.S. Geological Survey was transferred to the new bureau. The primary purpose of the early statistical accounts of mineral and metal reserves, production, con- sumption, and trade was to satisfy the need for information on materials for commerce and for national security, the latter leading to the establish- ment of strategic stockpiles. Early data on uses of scrap iron and steel were expanded to include nonferrous metals. From the early decades of the twentieth century, levels of metals recycling were tracked. Until the Department of Energy and its Energy Information Administration were 59

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60 MATERIALS COUNT established in 1977, the Bureau of Mines also provided information on oil, gas, and coal, not only for energy purposes, but also for the production of materials such as asphalt, tar, and lubricants from these raw materials. Throughout most of the century the attention was exclusively on minerals and mineral fuels. In the late 1980s, the U.S. Bureau of Mines began an analysis of factors affecting competition among materials, including the use of plastics as substitutes for metals. This work led to a broadening of the scope of re- search to include all non-food and non-fuel materials. This era saw the initiation of a series of groundbreaking publications that examined the entire life cycle of materials used for physical goods and structure (USBM, 1989, 1990, 1991~. The work also began to consider the environmental im- plications of the extraction, processing, production, use, and ultimate fate of these materials. Pioneering efforts included the quantification of hid- den flows (such as the gangue portion of ore) associated with the flows of commodities and the identification of environmental releases from com- modity flows. To achieve a historical perspective, the magnitude of physical mate- rial flows by weight, volume, and value was examined for the entire twen- tieth century (expanding on work by Spencer, 1978~. These data were then compared with changes in the gross domestic product and population during the century to assess how the use of specific materials waxed and waned during that period and whether decoupling with respect to popu- lation and gross domestic product was in fact taking place. To obtain a global perspective, the growth of physical material flows in the United States was compared to total global flows, and the degree to which long- term trends were sustainable was discussed. In its last years, the Bureau of Mines translated its national efforts into a regional material flows analysis, as it did for example for the Coun- cil of Great Lakes Governors (unpublished study by U.S. Bureau of Mines). This study, conducted as part of the Great Lakes Recycle Program, exam- ined commodity flows to identify how regional procurement policies of state and local governments could be used to effect changes in flows that could reduce environmental impacts, increase recycling, and provide in- creased inner city employment. This work led to the development of new techniques for using economic data to quantify specific material flows, principally of paper. The Bureau of Mines also began material balance studies on several minerals and metals (e.g., Llewellyn, 1992~. These studies created an in- ventory of the location of all of a specified material mined in modern times. The balances characterized how much metal is embedded in prod- ucts or infrastructure currently in use, in stockpiles, or in landfills and gave an estimate of the total thus far dissipated into the environment.

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MATERIAL FLOWS INFORMATION IN THE UNITED STATES 61 In 1995, when the U.S. Bureau of Mines was closed, the minerals in- formation functions were moved back to the U.S. Geological Survey, where they are continued today. The historical work on materials clearly demonstrated the importance of accurate and complete information on flows of minerals and metals. On May 4,1994, seventeen Members of Con- gress signed a letter to the then Chairman, House subcommittee on Inte- rior regarding the data from the U.S. Bureau of Mines: "The Bureau of Mines is providing vital analytical assistance to the Governors of the Eight Great Lake States... it is an innovative program that has generated much enthusiasm among the state government and has helped make great ad- vances in the area of waste disposal and reuse." Elsewhere in this report the example is given of AT&T using the same material flow information to avoid making a costly error in designing an electronic component with metals not available in sufficient quantities. In a letter to then Secretary Bruce Babbitt, Carol Witner of AT&T stated, "With the exception of the Bureau of Mines report, existing data on materials stocks and flows are generally scanty and of poor quality, thus limiting the ability of private firms to improve their environmental per- formance by choosing environmentally preferable materials." The significance of these "testimonials" is that they were generated as the Congress and Department of the Interior decided to close the Bureau of Mines. The support for the material flow data lead to the preservation of more than 180 positions to maintain that vital information function back at the USGS. The same rationale exists today for the maintenance and expansion of the data and the institutional capacity to generate it. The existing data historically available on metals and minerals from the U.S. Geological Survey and the U.S. Bureau of Mines provided the foundation that made useful work possible, and it also served to highlight the public domain data deficiencies with other commodity flows such as petrochemical products and compounds of chlorine. Similar evolution of material tracking occurred at other government agencies (e.g., the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency). With the de- velopment of the Toxics Release Inventory in 1987 (established under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act of 1986 [42 U.S.C. 11001 et seq.~), the Environmental Protection Agency began an evolution toward easily accessible data on releases to the environment, integrated into individual accounts for specific industrial facilities. The available data include accounts with air permit data, water permit data, waste generation rates, and environmental discharge data that are search- able by facility, industrial sector, or geographical region. These examples of the evolution of material tracking data provide evidence of sophisti- cated and useful data sets, evolving to meet changing needs.

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62 MATERIALS COUNT CURRENT DATA SOURCES At the national level in the United States, there are currently no regu- larly published, integrated data sets or material flows accounts that show total material production, use, and waste flows. Parts of this information are found in a variety of places because, historically, federal agencies have maintained data series on materials related to their organizational mis- sion and responsibilities. No single federal agency has responsibility for all material flows data or accounts, but the U.S. Bureau of Mines and now the U.S. Geological Survey report on most raw materials. Minerals includ- ing construction materials and metals account for more than 90 percent by weight of non-food, non-fuel materials use in the United States (U.S. Interagency Working Group on Industrial Ecology Material and Energy Flow, 2000~. The best sources of information on production and consump- tion of these materials, published annually by the U.S. Geological Survey, are the Mineral Commodity Summaries (e.g., USGS, 2003a) and the Min- erals Yearbook (e.g., USGS, 2002b), which is comprised of multiple vol- umes on Metals and Minerals (Volume I), Area Reports: Domestic (Vol- ume II), and Area Reports: International (Volume III). The reports give statistical summaries, describe trends for commodities, and explain sur- vey methods. Supporting the development of these reports, companies voluntarily supply proprietary data with the understanding that these data will remain confidential (Sidebar 5.1~. The published aggregated data show minerals and metals production and uses by sector, mineral and metal reserves, and often data on levels of recycling. The U.S. Geological Survey also publishes bulletins on the material flows of individual com- modities and, occasionally, on total material flows for the entire United States using data from federal agencies and other sources (e.g., Wilburn and Goonan, 1998; Brown et al., 2000~. The U.S. Forest Service periodically provides statistical data on lumber, composite board products, and pulp and paper (Howard, 1997~. Infor- mation in these reports is collected from industry trade organizations as well as from government agencies. The report data are intended for use by anyone with interest in the wood industry, and the focus is on techno- logical change over the years examined (e.g., the shift from the use of plywood to the use of oriented strand wood in structural panels). The National Agricultural Statistics Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture produces annual statistics on cotton and other fibers, non- edible oils, and other agricultural materials (USDA, 2003~. These data serve as a reference collection for agricultural production, supplies, con- sumption, facilities, costs, and returns. The Department of Agriculture collects and compiles the majority of these data. First the U.S. Bureau of Mines and then since the 1970s the Energy Information Administration of the Department of Energy have served as

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MATERIAL FLOWS INFORMATION IN THE UNITED STATES 63 the source of data on quantities of oil, gas, and coal for both energy and non-fuel products such as asphalt, lubricants, and plastics. This informa- tion is currently published in the Annual Energy Review (e.g., EIA, 2002b). Data for some indicators and statistics can be retrieved as far back as 1949 in this interactive and comprehensive report. These four sources provide data on the production and use of most raw materials (by weight) consumed in the U.S. economy. Other related data sources exist, that link materials data with economic data. Data on the use of a wide range of commodities in all industrial sec- tors are published by the Bureau of Economic Analysis of the U.S. Depart- ment of Commerce in the form of input-output tables (Bureau of Eco- nomic Analysis, 1999~. The economic input-output tables include inputs to industry production, commodities consumed by final users, and com- modities that are produced by each industry. The tables show transfers of commodities between industry sectors. The amount of a commodity (mea- sured in dollar value) that is required by an industry to produce a dollar of the industry's output and the production that is required, directly and indirectly, from each industry to deliver a dollar of a commodity to final users are also shown. In the tables commodities are broken down into categories sufficient for a "macro" overview of the economy but not for information of a finer resolution. For example, the material content of spe-

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64 MATERIALS COUNT cific products or trends in substitutions of one metal for another, of plas- tics for metals, or of materials with less toxicity are not noted. The Bureau of Economic Analysis also holds other valuable national, regional, indus- try, and international economic-related data (Bureau of Economic Analy- sis, 2003~. Materials used in products in several industrial sectors, such as auto- mobile manufacturers, consumer durables, and buildings, are published every five years by the U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Cen- sus, in the Materials Summary (e.g., U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1997~. The Materials Summary characterizes physical inputs and outputs between in- dustrial sectors and is organized broadly into product classes. Flows of materials after their use are not tracked well. An exception has been the Toxics Release Inventory of the U.S. Envi- ronmental Protection Agency. Information on the Toxics Release Inven- tory is publicly available on the Agency's web site (EPA, 2003~. More com- plete data for some industries or for some parts of the country do exist. For example, the State of New lersey's materials accounting data include not only releases and transfers, but also amounts of chemicals brought on-site, produced, consumed, shipped as product, and kept as inventory (Sidebar 2.1) (Dorfman and Wise, 1997~. However, such information is not easily available to the public. DEFINITIONAL GAPS IN THE DATA Several areas of importance have significant gaps in the data on mate- rial flows, including coverage of materials, spatial resolution (i.e., lack of data at the local level), chemical specificity, and materials related to natu- ral systems. Raw materials are often combined or manufactured into more complex materials or products (e.g., organic and inorganic chemical com- pounds). There is limited information about the flows of these materials, some of which are valuable and could be subject to increased recycling. Some materials released even in small quantities can have significant envi- ronmental impacts, and these materials or their releases also may not show up in a database. Further, with a few exceptions, such as the Toxics Release Inventory and some periodic estimates of the generation of solid wastes, there is little information on the flow of materials into the envi- ronment in the form of industrial and municipal solid wastes or as emis- sions of materials into the air, water, or soil resulting from industrial processes, transportation, and energy generation and use. The informa- tion available from the Toxics Release Inventory is not enough to give an accurate picture of these material flows: "In the United States, official gov- ernment statistics [on waste materials] are insufficient and in most cases served only indirectly as a basis for study estimates" (Matthews et al.,

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MATERIAL FLOWS INFORMATION IN THE UNITED STATES 65 2000~. As noted earlier, the Toxics Release Inventory covers only about 650 chemical compounds out of more than 60,000 currently manufactured or used in manufacturing. To monitor and report on the hundreds of thou- sands of chemicals and the many sources and forms of waste is difficult, expensive, and not the responsibility of any single federal agency. Wastes and emissions are tracked, but a complete picture is not available. It is important to note that what a government agency considers a waste is more a matter of regulatory definition than a description of a material and its physical properties. Thus, there is an advantage to a com- plete system of material flows accounts that tracks all materials through their production, use, and release to the environment without regard to current regulatory status. In Toxics Release Inventory reporting, tens of thousands of individual facilities report data tracking material flows that are spatially and chemically well characterized. The flows amount to bil- lions of pounds per year. In contrast, the Environmental Protection Agency's survey of non-hazardous waste survey, which was last done more than a decade ago (e.g., EPA, 1988, 1990, 1992), characterizes flows of waste materials in the industrial and municipal landfill sectors with little chemical detail and little information on the spatial distribution of the flows. Billions of tons of annual material flows were characterized in these surveys. For many materials, particularly minerals, metals, and wood, pulp, and paper products, data on sources and uses are generally not available in a disaggregated form to allow for material flows accounting at a re- gional, state, local, or plant level. As mentioned above, materials used in several industrial sectors, such as manufacturing and construction, are published by the U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census every five years in the Materials Summary (e.g., U.S. Bureau of Census, 1997~. There are, however, many gaps in the tables, particularly for quan- tities rather than value of materials, either because insufficient data were available or because too few companies reported data to enable the infor- mation to be published without violating confidentiality agreements. The material category labeled "other" is sometimes one of the largest compo- nents in a product, which is not useful. Although industrial systems and biogeochemical systems clearly in- teract, the material flows interactions generally are poorly understood. At the global level the grand cycles of carbon, nitrogen, sulfur, and phospho- rus are important. These grand cycles are better understood now than in the past; however, future scientific findings will focus on improving this understanding. The most studied of these interactions is the material flow of carbon between systems. The biogeochemical cycling of carbon has been and continues to be extensively studied, but industrial and other

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66 MATERIALS COUNT anthropogenic releases of carbon to the atmosphere and the generation of the releases by economic development are much less understood. Other less well known examples of issues related to natural systems are becoming increasingly evident. For example, it is now widely recog- nized that the nutrient loads on some water bodies are significantly im- pacted by nitrogen loads from runoff and by atmospheric deposition of air pollutants. Water is another global material for which flows accounts can be compiled, beyond the waste flows currently reported by the U.S. Geological Survey, but this may be a daunting task beyond a single plant or small region (e.g., the watershed level). Ultimately, the details of an- thropogenic and biogeochemical flow interactions particularly their spa- tial and temporal characteristics will become increasingly important, and they define a set of research issues, that are discussed more fully in Chapter 7. In addition to the data gaps in material flows information in cover- age, spatial resolution, chemical specificity, and natural systems, differ- ences in definitions and reporting structures for material flows databases are problematic. Many of the databases define flows in very different ways. For example, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (42 U.S.C. 6901 et seq.) biennial survey of hazardous wastes reports total flows of aqueous waste streams, including water, while the Toxics Release Inventory reports releases only of specified chemicals. Since information on composition is not available in the Resource Conservation and Recov- ery Act database, the two databases are impossible to reconcile. In addi- tion, since the reports are often not submitted in a coordinated manner, information about facilities can be inconsistent. It is not unusual, for ex- ample, for the same facility to report different standard industrial classifi- cation codes to different databases, making comparisons and coordina- tion among U.S. Geological Survey reports, Bureau of the Census data, and waste and emission flows data extremely difficult. The contrast between very well characterized material flows accounts performed annually (e.g., by the U.S. Geological Survey) and relatively coarse material flows analyses performed perhaps once every five years or per decade (e.g., by the Bureau of the Census), appears throughout the full range of data sets on material flows. This type of disparity in data collection efforts can be rationalized, but a systemic review of material flows data collection has not been performed. The temporal resolution necessary to support relevant and timely material flows analyses is unde- termined. Developing compatible database structures and analytical frame- works capable of tracking flows that vary in chemical and structural com- plexity, spatial scale, and magnitude presents significant challenges. Deal-

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MATERIAL FLOWS INFORMATION IN THE UNITED STATES 67 ing with the complexities of integrating all of the primary data sources also presents challenges. If data collection is distributed rather than cen- tralized, a common database and system is required so that all authorized federal, state, and local agencies and other authorized industry and non- governmental organizations (see the discussion on partnerships in Chap- ter 6) can access the data directly. Uniform protocols to enter and delete data will be required to ensure compatibility and accuracy. However, very large computer-based data systems are now available to make data stor- age and retrieval relatively easy and inexpensive. SUMMARY AND FINDINGS There are many sources of data on material flows in the United States, although they are not coordinated or integrated for analysis or public policy-making purposes, nor are they adequate to construct material flows accounts. These sources could be used to begin populating national mate- rial flows accounts, but additional data and linkages are necessary for important material flows to be considered appropriately in public policy making. The committee concludes that there are some good sources of data rel- evant to material flows, but the data are not yet adequate to populate formal materialilows accounts. The committeefurther concludes that these inadequacies impede the development of sound public policy and business decisions. The com- mittee recommends that a national-level effort be initiated to identify and fill significant data gaps that presently impede the development of effective material flows accounts. Integration and modest supplementa- tion of existing data acquisition programs are thus extremely valuable.

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68 MATEM4S COOT information on materials for commerce and for national security, the latter leacling to the establishment of strategic stockpiles. Early data on uses of scrap iron and steel were expander! to include nonferrous metals. From the early decades of the twentieth century, levels of metals recycling were tracked. Until the Department of Energy and its Energy Information Administration were established in 1977, the Bureau of Mines also provided information on oil, gas, and coal, not only for energy purposes, but also for the production of materials such as asphalt, tar, ant! lubricants from these raw materials. Throughout most of the century the attention was exclusively on minerals ant! mineral fuels. In the late l980s, the U.S. Bureau of Mines began an analysis of factors affecting competition among materials, including the use of plastics as substitutes for metals. This work led to a broadening of the scope of research to include all non-fooc! and non-fuel matenals. This era saw the initiation of a series of groundbreaking publications that examiner! the entire life cycle of materials used for physical goods and structure (USBM, ~ 989, ~ 990, 199 ~ ). The work also began to consider the environmental implications of the extraction, processing, production use, and ultimate fate of these materials. Pioneering efforts included the quantification of hidden flows (such as the gangue portion of ore) associates! with the flows of commodities and the identification of environmental releases from commodity flows. To achieve a historical perspective, the magnitude of physical material flows by weight, volume, and value was examined for the entire twentieth century (empaneling on work by Spencer, 1978~. These data were then compared with changes in the gross domestic product and population during the century to assess how the use of specific materials waxed and waned during that period and whether decoupling with respect to population and gross (lomestic product was in fact taking place. To obtain a global perspective, the growth of physical material flows in the United States was comparer! to total global flows, and the degree to which long-term trends were sustainable was discussed. In its last years, the Bureau of Mines translated its national efforts into a regional material flows analysis, as it did for example for the Council of Great Lakes Governors (unpublished! study by U.S. Bureau of Mines). This study, conducted as part of the Great Lakes Recycle Program, examiner} commodity flows to identify how regional procurement policies of state and local governments could be used to PRE-PUBLICATION VERSION, SUBJECT TO EDITORIAL CHANGES