Bulk Material Flows

The main sustainability problems resulting from extraction and use of bulk material flows such as sand and gravel but also biomass from grassland are loss of biodiversity, sealing of land area, disruption of ecosystems, and resource depletion caused by overexploitation of resources (Fischer-Kowalski and H├╝ttler 1998). These problems are a result mainly of the amount of materials extracted and used, not of the composition of or substances included in these materials. Sustainability in relation to bulk material flows therefore asks for a reduction in the total material throughput or in the scale of the economy, as argued by Daly (1992). Policy instruments that address high-volume flows include taxes and voluntary agreements (Steurer 1998). For high-volume flows, more general sustainability considerations apply (Steurer 1998), and they focus on the overall reduction of the material throughput. The key interest in this area is dematerialization (i.e., decoupling of economic growth from material use, leading to an increase of material efficiency). In the 1990s these issues were most prominently addressed by Weizs├Ącker et al. (1995), who asked for a reduction of overall material use by a factor of four, and Schmidt-Bleek (1994), demanding a reduction by a factor of ten.

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