DMI comprises all materials that enter a socioeconomic production process. It encompasses DE and imports. In many studies, DMI used to be the main indicator for material use. Upon further analysis, however, it proved to be difficult to interpret as soon as international trade becomes a substantial component of material input. On one hand, a shift from producing domestically toward importing commodities reduces DMI in a country (because all wastes generated during extraction and production are externalized from its territory). This reduction is not real dematerialization but rather externaliza-tion of impact. On the other hand, countries that extract raw materials for export (particularly metal ores or highly processed biomass such as meat) tend to have very high DMI without a corresponding domestic material consumption level.
Relating DMI to GDP provides useful information on the material needs of the national economy. It is one of the most common indicators of the dematerialization of an economy. Mathematically, this indicator can also be formulated as material productivity of the economy (GDP/DMI).
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