Municipal Materials Accounting and Environmental Management

This thesis, which consists of a main text and three appended papers, deals with some questions about environmental monitoring and management in municipalities. More specifically it aims at examining whether and how a system for municipal materials flow accounting (based on the concept of materials flow analysis (MFA); a tool for analysing regional metabolisms), could be helpful for environmental policy making and mangement in municipalities. In addition, it aims also at providing a basis for wider and perhaps more informed discussions about strategies for future mangement and control of nitrogen flows and nitrogen related environmental issues. Regarding management of nitrogen related environmental issues from a national perspective, it is argued that a decentralised strategy, taking local conditions for nitrogen pollution abatement in consideration, is likely to be most efficient. Regarding more specific measures for nitorgen pollution abatement, it is argued that more effort has to be put on influencing the major underlying causes to emissions of nitrogen compounds; e.g. food consumption and means of transportation. Such issues cannot be dealt with efficiently by municipal authorities on their own. There is a growing need of co-operation between different actors in society. Thus, municipal authorities will find themselves in new and different roles in future environmental management. Further, municipal materials accounting is found to have several advantages over traditional emission inventories in providing information for environmental policy making and management in municipalities. It makes it possible for environmental policy makers, managers, and other actors on the environmental arena, to gain a more encompassing understanding of society's function and its interaction with the environment in physical terms. By that, it opens up for the possibility to develop and adopt more encompassing and preventive measures in municipal environmental management. It is concluded that municipal materials accounting and MFA, if applied in prctice, will provide information valuable in running as will as occasional issues, and and for strategic as well as operational issues of environmental management in municipalities. In large, they can be characterised as technical tools for measurement of societal activities and their environmental pressure, to be used in relation to planning and assessment for local and regional sustainability.

Where to find

Royal Institute of Technology Dept. of Chemical Engineering and Technology Division of Industrial Ecology SE-100 44 Stockholm, Sweden Phone +46 8 790 9118 Fax +46 8 790 5034

Author Fredrik Burstrom von Malmborg
Institution Dept. of Chemical Engineering and Technology, Royal Institute of Technology
Advisor Bjorn Frostell
Expected graduation 1998