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Web-based Survey of Trends in Dematerialization

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This research is a web-based survey of information and data trends on the topic of dematerialization.  Eco-efficiency, industrial ecology and dematerialization-related developments in nanotechnology were investigated.  References for data and information are provided throughout the following document.  As this research was an assessment of trends in dematerialization, information and data points gathered from companies and trade associations were included without evaluating or verifying the claims.

This assessment is a review of company and industry best practices of dematerialization.  Analysis has illustrated clear candidates for reducing material intensities.  It has also shown that some products and processes have hidden material and energy flows that can impact the extent to which dematerialization actually occurs. To more effectively assess the benefits of dematerialization strategies requires a more detailed assessment of different spatial scales - from the product and process level to the company and sector level.  There is also a need to assess the pollution, wastes, energy requirements, and natural resource requirements within each scale.  Such a critical analysis looks not only at the amount of natural resources contained in assessed commodities and products, but also the hidden flows which are involved in producing them.  Assessing the entire life cycle of a product can help to understand the systemic effects of different materials in different applications and the quantities of material inputs, thus providing information on the direct and indirect efficiencies of resource use.

Research Areas
Framework, Methods & Tools
Urban Systems and Built Environment
Publication Type
Full Citation
Penn, I. 2001. Web-based Survey of Trends in Dematerialization. University of Michigan: Ann Arbor.