What do we see?
In the period 2010-2018 the moving average (the 3-year average) of the RMI grew. This means the Flemish economy had a greater demand for materials, both directly and from the upstream supply chains.
A large part of the import of materials is intended for the production of intermediate goods and finished products that are then re-exported. The Flemish economy is therefore heavily dependent on the direct import of materials. When we express imports in raw material equivalents, that dependency becomes even bigger. In 2018 these imports accounted for 93.4% of the direct and indirect input of materials into the Flemish economy (RMI), compared to 92.2% in 2008. The Flemish economy has therefore become even more dependent on material-intensive activities abroad.
What’s the aim?
In contrast to a linear economy, which uses resources and materials just once, a circular economy uses fewer natural resources per service and also keeps them in the cycle for longer. This means that natural resources are used up less quickly, the economy is less dependent on them, and we can maintain the balance between resource consumption and the carrying capacity of our environment. In a circular economy we therefore strive for a lower material footprint.
What does this indicator measure?
The material footprint of the Flemish economy (or RMI) is equal to the sum of domestic extraction used (DEU) and imports, expressed in raw material equivalents (or RME).
Raw Material Input (RMI) = Domestic Extraction Used (DEU) + Imports in raw material equivalents (IMP-RME)
The RMI is calculated on the basis of the economy-wide material flow accounts (EW-MFA) that each member state of the European Union has to report. Based on European aggregated RME coefficients for almost 190 European product groups, the physical imports (IMP) are converted into raw material equivalents (IMP-RME). As no official EW-MFA are created for country regions, the RMI of Flanders has to be estimated.
The RMI is not impacted by outsourcing because it is expressed in raw material equivalents. It includes all raw materials needed throughout the entire production chain of the Flemish economy, which means imported materials too. The RMI illustrates to what extent the material basis of the Flemish economy is outsourced to other countries.