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“Dematerialization” in Green Business: An A-to-Z Guide

CSS Publication Number
Full Publication Date
May 4, 2010

The concept of dematerialization refers broadly to the reduction of materials used by society over time. Definitions of the term material use vary, but generally include some estimate of ecosystem appropriation and waste generation. Dematerialization studies have been done for products, businesses, regions, nations, even the globe. Measures of dematerialization are often expressed as relative, rather than as absolute values. Such relative values, often called “intensity factors,” express total material use per unit of economic output. It should be noted that with the steep upward curves typical for economic output and population, declines in relative values may be visible even as absolute materials use continues to climb. This makes the scale and scope of analysis crucial when measuring dematerialization.

Robert O. Vos
Research Areas
Urban Systems and Built Environment
Materials, Scope and scale
Publication Type
Book Chapter
Digital Object Identifier
Full Citation
Vos. Robert O. & Josh Newell. (2011) “Dematerialization” in Green Business, ed. Nevin Cohen, and Paul Robbins. SAGE Publications: Thousand Oaks, CA. 128-132.