Click for next page ( 10


The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement



Below are the first 10 and last 10 pages of uncorrected machine-read text (when available) of this chapter, followed by the top 30 algorithmically extracted key phrases from the chapter as a whole.
Intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text on the opening pages of each chapter. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.

Do not use for reproduction, copying, pasting, or reading; exclusively for search engines.

OCR for page 9
1 Introduction Humans have processed and used materials since the dawn of civi- lization. For most of this time, small populations and low levels of technology meant that rates of materials extraction, use, and dis- posal were low. The situation changed significantly as the Industrial Revo- lution began. In the late nineteenth century and in the latter half of the twentieth century, the amount of material used in economic activity ex- ploded (See Plate I). Concerns over expanded rates of material use and the long-term avail- ability of material resources were the basis for the report of the Paley Com- mission (President's Materials Policy Commission, 1952), which docu- mented the importance of systematic tracking of material flows. Government agencies responded by (or had already been active in) moni- toring the rates of use of minerals, forest products, and fuels. These activi- ties continue and have been gradually expanded to include additional material flows, such as environmental emissions. These are all compo- nents of a comprehensive approach to sustainable development as dis- cussed further in Chapter 3. Efforts at tracking sources and flows of materials have allowed public and private sector decision makers to answer critical questions for de- cades. Where were the metals needed to supply the growth of American manufacturing? Where were the construction materials needed for the growth of American cities, housing, and highways? Where were the en- ergy resources to keep transportation moving, keep the lights on and the machinery turning, and keep the heat on in the winter and the air condi- tioning in the summer? Where were the alternate sources of supply or 9

OCR for page 9
0 MATERIALS COUNT substitutes for strategic materials necessary to support American indus- try and national security? What were the environmental consequences of the material and energy flows? Answering these questions will continue to be important for national security, economic growth, and environmental decision making. For ex- ample, for national security purposes it is important to recognize that the United States currently imports more than half its use of dozens of com- modities (USGS, 2002a) (Figure 1.1~. Many of these materials are strategic for the economic health and security of the nation, and in many cases, the primary sources of the materials are in regions of political instability. The most obvious example of this material dependence is oil. In October 2002, 63 percent of the petroleum used in the United States (9.5 million barrels per day) was imported (EIA, 2002a). However, other important though less obvious examples abound. For example, fluorspar is the primary raw material for hydrofluoric acid, which is used directly or indirectly in the manufacture of aluminum, gasoline, insulating foams, refrigerants, steel, and uranium (USGS, 2003a). The United States imports all of its fluorspar, and some of the imports come from regions that have volatile trade rela- tionships with the United States. Figure 1.1 shows that these situations are relatively common. The need to collect material flows information to support national security decisions may be self-evident, but other uses of material flows information have been unexpected. One important function of material flows accounts is to help firms and the economy innovate efficiently. In particular, such data can guide the development of technologies that are possible at actual production levels. For example, in the early 1990s, the electronics industry was contemplating a switch from tin-lead solder, the universal standard, to solder compositions that avoided the use of lead, an environmental pollutant (Sidebar 1.1~. In this case, analysis of materi- als flows prevented an inappropriate technology with high cost and a problematic future from moving forward. Improved alternatives using more common metals have now begun to appear in the electronics market. Analyses of material flows data have also led to surprising insights into sources of environmental pollutants. When a team assembled by the New York Academy of Sciences used material flows data to identify the sources of mercury in New York Harbor, the data revealed that releases from dental facilities, not heavy industry, were the largest wastewater contributor (de Cerreno et al., 2002~. An assessment of material flows was a critical element of the cement industry's strategic vision, developed through the World Business Coun- cil for Sustainable Development (World Business Council for Sustainable Development, 2002~. These flows included not just the raw materials of

OCR for page 9
INTRODUCTION Commoditv Percent ARSENIC (trioxide) ASBESTOS BAUXITE and ALUMINA COLUMBIUM (NIOBIUM) FLUORSPAR GRAPHITE (natural) MANGANESE MICA, sheet (natural) QUARTZ CRYSTAL (industrial) STRONTIUM THALLIUM THORIUM VANADIUM YTTRIUM GEMSTONES BISMUTH INDIUM TIN BARITE PALLAD I U M ANTI MONY DIAMOND (natural) POTASH STONE (dimension) TANTALU M CHROMIUM COBALT IODINE TITANIUM MINERAL CONCENTRATES RHENIUM RARE EARTHS PLATINUM ZINC TUNGSTEN TITANIUM (sponge) N I CKE L PEAT MAGNESIUM METAL SILVER SILICON BERYLLIUM MAGNESIUM COMPOUNDS ALUMINUM PUMICE DIAMOND (dust, grit, and powder) COPPER NITROGEN Fixed), AMMONIA VERMICULITE GYPSUM CEM ENT GARNET (industrial) LEAD MICA, scrap and flake (natural) PERLITE SA LT IRON and STEEL IRON ORE SULFUR IRON and STEEL SLAG BROMINE CADMIUM PHOSPHATE ROCK STONE (crushed) TALC FIGURE 1.12001 U.S. net SOURCE: USGS, 2002a. 11 Maior Import Sources (1997-2000)' China, Chile, Mexico Canada Australia, Guinea, Jamaica, Brazil Brazil, Canada, Germany, Russia China, South Africa, Mexico China, Mexico, Canada, Brazil South Africa, Gabon, Australia, Mexico India, Belgium, Germany, China Brazil, Germany, Madagascar Mexico, Germany Belgium, Canada, Germany, United Kingdom, France France, Canada, Japan, Singapore Canada, South Africa, China, Austria China, Japan, United Kingdom, Germany Israel, India, Belgium Belgium, Mexico, United Kingdom, China Canada, China, Russia, France China, Peru, Indonesia, Brazil, Bolivia China, India, Canada, Mexico Russia, South Africa, Belgium, United Kingdom China, Mexico, South Africa, Belgium, Bolivia United Kingdom, Switzerland, Ireland, Belgium Canada, Russia, Belarus Italy, Brazil, Canada, India Australia, China, Thailand, Japan South Africa, Kazakhstan, Russia, Turkey, Zimbabwe Finland, Norway, Canada, Russia Chile, Japan, Russia South Africa, Australia, Canada, Ukraine Chile, Kazakhstan, Germany, Russia China, France, Japan, United Kingdom South Africa, United Kingdom, Germany, Russia Canada, Mexico, Peru China, Russia, Germany, Portugal Russia, Japan, Kazakhstan Canada, Norway, Russia, Australia Canada Canada, China, Russia, Israel Mexico, Canada, Peru, United Kingdom Norway, South Africa, Russia, Canada Russia, Canada, Germany, Kazakhstan China, Canada, Australia, Austria Canada, Russia, Venezuela, Mexico Greece, Italy, Turkey Ireland, China, Russia Canada, Chile, Peru, Mexico Trinidad and Tobago, Canada, Mexico South Africa, China Canada, Mexico, Spain Canada, Thailand, China, Venezuela, Greece Australia, India, China Canada, Mexico, Australia, Peru Canada, India, Finland, China G reece Canada, Chile, Mexico, The Bahamas European Union, Canada, Japan, Mexico Canada, Brazil, Venezuela, Australia Canada, Mexico, Venezuela Canada, Italy, Brazil, France Israel, United Kingdom, Belgium, Netherlands Canada, Australia, Belgium, Germany Morocco Canada, Mexico, The Bahamas China, Canada, France, Japan fin descending order of import share import reliance for selected nonfuel mineral materials.

OCR for page 9
2 MATERIALS COUNT cement, but also the myriad of materials that are used as supplementary fuels and feed supplements such as tires, waste plastics, electric arc fur- nace dust, and liquid hydrocarbon wastes. The locations and availabilities of these materials will drive future economics in the cement industry as much as the location and availability of limestone, clay, and sand. As illustrated by the previous examples, material flows information can be significant in identifying potential environmental concerns, allow- ing preventive action. For example, material flows data reveal that over the past 30 years, the widespread use of pressure-treated lumber has cre- ated large stocks of arsenic in building materials that are now nearing the end of their useful life (Sidebar 1.2~. Knowledge of the use patterns and spatial distribution of this stock of arsenic, through material flows data,

OCR for page 9
INTRODUCTION 13 could allow for the development of effective strategies for preventing the widespread release of arsenic into the environment. These limited examples, which are expanded on in Chapter 4, show that material flows data inform national security, industrial, and public policy decisions. Yet decision makers now face a new generation of ques- tions that require integration of economic, environmental, material flows, and energy flows information. On what fuel infrastructure should a next- generation transportation system rely? What are the economic, material flows, energy flows, and environmental implications of nanotechnologies and biotechnologies? What should be the disposition of electronic prod- ucts at the end of their useful life? How can global environmental loads of mercury and nutrients be most cost-effectively reduced? Answering these questions will require material and energy flows data and economic in- formation that are much more complete and integrated than current data. As examples in this chapter have illustrated, decision makers without ac- cess to more systematically integrated material flows information could have a greater potential for making costly, ineffective decisions.

OCR for page 9
4 MATERIALS COUNT The flows of mercury provide a rich example of the need for more integrated material flows information. A variety of regulatory strategies are being developed for reducing mercury releases into the environment, including reducing the use of mercury in products such as electrical switches and requiring the removal of mercury from the stack gases of coal-burning power plants. The effectiveness of these strategies in reduc- ing the accumulation of mercury in the food chain will depend on the interaction between the environmental releases and the global environ- mental processing of mercury that allows it to bioaccumulate. The even- tual effectiveness of the policies will depend on whether current analyses of mercury stocks and flows, which have significant uncertainty, are ac- curate. STUDY AND REPORT Understanding how to make the most economically and environmen- tally efficient use of materials will require an understanding of the flow of materials from the time a material is extracted, though processing, manu- facturing, use, and its ultimate destination as a waste or reusable resource. It will also require knowledge of the environmental and societal impacts of the flow. The National Research Council was commissioned by the Depart- ment of Energy, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, National Science Foundation, and U.S. Geological Survey to establish a Committee on Material Flows Accounting of Natural Resources, Products, and Residu- als to undertake a study to address material flows accounting issues. The committee consisted of 11 experts from academia, industry, and govern- ment with expertise in industrial ecology, mining and chemical engineer- ing, sustainable design and construction, ecological economics, and toxi- cology. Biographical sketches of the committee members are provided in Appendix A. The statement of task asked the committee to examine material flows accounting. Specifically, the committee examined the usefulness of creating and maintaining material flows accounts for developing sound public policy on the environment, materials, and energy; evaluated the technical basis for material flows analysis; assessed the current state of material flows information, including what data are collected, where they reside; quality, scale, and complete- ness of the data; formats; accessibility; and the tools and methods avail- able for analyzing the data; described how public and private sectors are currently using this

OCR for page 9
INTRODUCTION 15 information and how materials flow accounts can be improved through partnerships or access to additional data; and determined who should have institutional responsibility for col- lecting, maintaining, and providing access to additional data for material flows accounts. The committee did not undertake a cost-benefit analysis when con- sidering the usefulness of creating and maintaining material flows ac- counts. However, the committee did look qualitatively at the cost impact of several implementation options and the recommendations in general. To address its charge, the committee gathered, synthesized, and ana- lyzed information by holding three information-gathering meetings be- tween fuly 2002 and September 2002. The meetings included presenta- tions by and discussions with the sponsors; personnel from government programs; and representatives of industry, academia, and environmental organizations from both the United States and abroad (Appendix B). The full committee also met twice in closed session for discussion and writing. As background material, the committee reviewed several documents and materials including pertinent National Research Council reports, techni- cal reports, and literature published through December 2002. This report is intended for multiple audiences. It contains advice and information for the sponsors as well as for other federal agencies, policy makers, consultants, scientists, and engineers. Chapter 2 defines materi- als and material flows accounting for the purposes of this report and pro- vides some historical context. Chapter 3 places material flows accounting, analysis, and issues in a broader societal context. Chapter 4 provides an overview of the uses and usefulness of the applications of material flows accounting. Chapter 5 recounts current sources of material flows informa- tion in the United States and gaps in data, and examines the challenges of integrating the numerous components involved in material flows analy- sis. Chapter 6 describes how material flows accounting could benefit from effective partnerships and outlines key issues to forming partnerships. Chapter 7 discusses research issues related to material flows accounting, including its linkage with the grand cycles of nature and how it may be more useful. Chapter 8 describes an implementation scheme for the suc- cessful development and use of material flows accounts.

OCR for page 9
16 MATERIALS COUNT scale, and completeness of the data; formats; accessibility; and the tools and methods available for analyzing the data; described how public and private sectors are currently using this information and how materials flow accounts can be improved through partnerships or access to additional data; and determined who should have institutional responsibility for collecting, maintaining, and providing access to additional data for material flows accounts. The committee did not undertake a cost-benefit analysis when considering the usefulness of creating and maintaining material flows accounts. However, the committee did Took qualitatively at the cost impact of several implementation options and the recommendations in general. To address its charge, the committee gathered, synthesized, and analyzed information by holding three information-gathering meetings between July 2002 and September 2002. The meetings inclu(led presentations by and discussions with the sponsors; personnel from government programs; and representatives of industry, academia, and environmental organizations from both the United States and abroad (Appendix B). The full committee also met twice in closed session for discussion and writing. As background material, the committee reviewed several documents and materials including pertinent National Research Council reports, technical reports, and literature published through December 2002. This report is intended for multiple audiences. It contains advice and information for the sponsors as well as for other federal agencies, policy makers, consultants, scientists, and engineers. Chapter 2 defines materials and material flows accounting for the purposes of this report and provides some historical context. Chapter 3 places material flows accounting, analysis, and issues in a broader societal context. Chapter 4 provides an overview of the uses and usefulness of the applications of material flows accounting. Chapter 5 recounts current sources of material flows information in the United States and gaps in data, and examines the challenges of integrating the numerous components involved in material flows analysis. Chapter 6 describes how material flows accounting could benefit from effective partnerships and outlines key issues to forming partnerships. Chapter 7 discusses research issues related to material flows accounting, including its linkage with the grand cycles of nature and how it may be more useful. Chapter ~ describes an PRE-PUBLICATION VERSION, SUBJECT TO EDITORIAL CHANGES