Results Overview

What is a resource flow analysis?

Resource flow analysis is a systematic methodology used for tracking the flow of materials through a country, region, city or organisation. The outcomes of a resource flow analysis provide an opportunity for a better understanding of how and where to target activities to manage material consumption and minimisation (see Griffiths & Lewis, 2004 and Linstead et al., 2003).

This report presents the results of the resource flow analysis. It identifies the movement of resources through the South West for the year 2001. The following areas were quantified:

  • Direct energy : Electricity, gas, fuel and any other source of energy consumed.
  • Materials : Primary materials extracted such as fuels, wood and metals.
  • Products : Finished products consumed.
  • Food : Food consumed.
  • Waste : Municipal solid waste, commercial and industrial, and construction and demolition waste.
  • Transport : Personal travel by mode.
  • Water : Water abstractions and consumption.
  • Land : Land use.
  • Emissions to air : All emissions, including CO2.
  • Hidden flows : Materials disturbed during extraction, which do not enter the economy.

Areas of interest have been presented in boxes, as vignettes, throughout this resource flow report. These include agriculture and agricultural waste, the china clay and aerospace industries and processed food.

To reflect statistical margins in data quality, all figures have been presented to the nearest thousand tonnes ('000 tonnes). The Resource Flow Analysis Methodology section in the Technical Report covers in more detail the sources of data used and any issues associated with data quality.

Figure 1 illustrates the flow of materials and products within the South West region of England. There are four main figures that make up the resource flow:

  • Total imports: 24.5 million tonnes
    • This is composed of all the materials (8.6 million tonnes) and products (15.7 million tonnes) imported into the South West region.
  • Total production: 47.7 million tonnes.
    • This includes only the raw materials extracted (production) within the South West. Finished products produced within the South West (17.4 million tonnes) are not added to this figure because these will have been produced from materials already accounted for in raw materials produced in the region or materials imported, and would therefore be double counting.
  • Total exports: 24.1 million tonnes.
    • This includes exported materials (13.8 million tonnes) and products (10.3 million tonnes) in the South West of England.
  • Apparent consumption: 48 million tonnes. Apparent consumption was estimated by adding imports to production and subtracting exports. Associated with this consumption is
    • 20.3 million tonnes of waste
    • 27 million tonnes of emissions to air.

Figure 1
Resource flows in the South West, by mass, in 2001

fig 1

Note: Totals may differ due to rounding.
Note: Other domestic goods include furniture, leather goods, other clothing and electronic items.
Note: Production only accounts for materials and excludes products in order to avoid double counting.

Sources: BGS, 2002; Bringezu & Shutz, 2001 & 2001a; DEFRA, 2002, 2003 & 2003c; FAO, 2002; Forestry Statistics, 2003; Highley et al., 2003; ONS, 2001a & 2003a and University of Plymouth, 2003