Material productivity

Material productivity is the ratio of gross domestic product to material consumption and expresses the efficiency of this consumption as the value added generated by the economy per unit of material. Depending on the expression used for material consumption, other aspects of this efficiency are highlighted.

0.43 - 1.47 €/kg

To produce the same economic output, depending on the expression, fewer or the same number of materials are needed than before.

What do we see?

All curves show an undulating trend between 2010 and 2021. Since GDP increased steadily over the entire period (with the exception of 2020, at the time of the COVID crisis), the movements of the different expressions for materials consumption are largely reflected in the respective materials consumption indicators. For all curves except that of GDP/RMI, the values in 2021 are higher than in 2010. This is most striking for the expression GDP/DMC which shows an increase of 21%. Material productivity expressed as GDP/DMI shows almost no evolution.

What’s the aim?

In a circular economy, reduced consumption of materials is the goal. However, much of the import of materials in Flanders is for the production of semi-finished and finished products that are re-exported abroad. We want to see an increase in the efficiency with which the Flemish economy handles materials. Material productivity measures the ability to produce the same economic output with fewer materials. An increase in productivity indicates better environmental and/or economic performance and thus improved competitiveness. When this phenomenon occurs, we speak of relative decoupling.

The Belgian Government has a material productivity target: the ratio of Gross Domestic Product to Direct Material Consumption must increase by 30% between 2014 and 2030.

What does this indicator measure?

Material productivity is the ratio of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to material consumption. GDP is expressed in chain-linked values to eliminate the impact of inflation on the figures. Material consumption can be expressed as consumption within Flanders or as an input to the Flemish economy, and with or without the inclusion of pre-chains abroad. As a result, the interpretation differs slightly between the different expressions:

  • GDP/DMI shows the ratio between the added value generated in Flanders and the entire direct consumption of materials by the Flemish economy. Here the area covered for materials consumption completely overlaps with that in which added value is generated.
  • GDP/RMI additionally takes into account the pre-chains and additionally shows the efficiency in the indirect consumption of materials abroad. As a result, the numerical values obtained are much lower than when the DMI is taken.
  • GDP/DMC focuses on consumption within Flanders. This expression is currently the most commonly used internationally. The expression as material consumption avoids double counting. The efficiency of materials consumption in the production of goods destined for export is not included.
  • GDP/RMC also adds to the previous expression the efficiency in indirect consumption of materials abroad.

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