Raw Material Input (RMI) of the Flemish economy

The Raw Material Input (RMI) is the materials footprint of the Flemish economy: it reflects the entire material base of the Flemish economy, including the pre-chains abroad. The footprint allows the global material impact of the Flemish economy to be quantified and illustrates the extent to which the material base of the Flemish economy is outsourced to other countries.

562 million tonnes

  • Between 2010 and 2021, we see an increase of 12%.
  • Imports account for 91% of the direct and indirect input of materials into the Flemish economy.

What do we see?

Over the period from 2012 to 2021, there is an increase of 12%. This increase is steepest between 2017 and 2018. The decline in the latest data points has yet to be confirmed because this is where the impact of the COVID crisis is reflected: the value increased again in the year 2021, but this is visible only very slightly in the moving average.

What’s the aim?

In a circular economy, lower consumption of materials is the target. However, a large part of materials imported into Flanders are for the production of semi-finished and finished products that are re-exported abroad. The efficiency with which the Flemish economy deals with materials is reflected via the material productivity.

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. These are compiled at country level; for Flanders, they are estimated. Imported and exported goods and services are then converted into the quantity of raw materials needed to produce those goods. To do this, more than 9,000 trade flows are converted into extracted raw materials using less than 200 coefficients. Thus, physical import flows (IMP) are converted into resource equivalents (IMP-RME).

Number values may still change in subsequent updates due to usual adjustments in the underlying trade data. We use a three-year moving average because the values in RMI fluctuate quite a bit from year to year.

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