What is material footprint?

“Material footprint” refers to the total amount of raw materials extracted to meet final consumption demands.

It is one indication of the pressures placed on the environment to support economic growth and to satisfy the material needs of people.

The global material footprint rose from 43 billion metric tons in 1990 to 54 billion in 2000, and 92 billion in 2017—an increase of 70% since 2000, and 113 per cent since 1990. The rate of natural resource extraction has accelerated since 2000. Without concerted political action, it is projected to grow to 190 billion metric tons by 2060.

Material footprint per capita: The material footprint per capita has also increased at an alarming rate.

  • In 1990, about 8.1 metric tons of natural resources were used to satisfy an individual’s needs. In 2017, that rose to 12.2 metric tons, an increase of 50%.
  • The material footprint of high-income countries is greater than their domestic material consumption, indicating that consumption in those countries relies on materials from other countries through international supply chains.


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