Material Flow Accounts

What is it? 

The System of Environmental-Economic Accounts (SEEA) for material flow provide information on material inputs and outputs of an economy using the structures and principles laid out in the SEEA Central Framework. The SEEA Material Flow Accounts can provide an aggregate overview of the inputs and outputs in terms of inputs from the environment, outputs to the environment, and the physical amounts of imports and exports. Understanding economy-wide material flow is critical to understanding resource use by the economy and eco-efficiency.

How it works

SEEA Material Flow Accounts complement and balance other data sets and accounts. The economy-wide material flow accounts are created by organising different accounts (i.e. forestry, water, air emissions accounts, etc.) in a consistent accounting framework. This set of staged accounts together represents the full material balance of the economy, and there is flexibility in choosing the most nationally relevant accounts when compiling SEEA Material Flow Accounts.

Material Flow Accounting and the SEEA Central Framework

Material flow accounts are one of the many types of accounts covered by the SEEA Central Framework, all of which use the same accounting concepts. The SEEA Material Flow Accounts provide an important resource to those wanting a macro, economy-wide look at the physical inputs into an economy, material accumulation in the economy and outputs to other economies. A full description of material flow accounting can be found in the Economy-wide Material Flow Accounts Handbook (European Commission and Eurostat, 2018)