The aim of this thesis is to discuss and analyse the influenceof data uncertainties with regard to the reliability of materialflow analysis (MFA) studies. MFA, as a part of environmentalsystems analysis, is a method belonging to the research field ofindustrial ecology and more specifically industrial metabolism.As such, the method strives at giving a holistic view of thecomplex world we live in, in order to reduce negativeenvironmental impact. Among other things, MFA studies have beenproposed to be useful for priority setting and following up inmunicipalities.
Serving as a starting point is a local case study of flows ofnitrogen in a Swedish municipality, Västerås. The casestudy has been performed using the ComBoxmodel. The years studiedare 1995 and 1998. The main sectors in society emitting nitrogento water were identified as the agricultural and householdsectors. The dominating sectors emitting nitrogen to air wereidentified as the agricultural, transport and infrastructuresectors.
As a basis for discussing data uncertainties qualitatively andquantitatively a literature survey was performed. 50 articles andbooks were identified as in some way or another dealing with datauncertainties in MFA. The literature survey showed that theuncertainties for results from a MFA study might vary between±30 % and a factor 10 depending on what kind of parameter isinvestigated. Only one method was found that dealt with datauncertainties in MFA in a complete way; a model developed byHedbrant and Sörme (HS model).
When applying the HS model to the case study of nitrogen flowsin Västerås, it was found that when uncertaintyintervals were calculated the possible conclusions changed. Ofthe two pair of flows compared in relation to priority setting,none of the earlier conclusions remained. Of the three flowsanalysed in relation to following up, only the flow from onepoint source supported the same conclusion when uncertainty wasconsidered.
In all, it is concluded that data uncertainties in MFAanalysis are an important aspect and that further research isneeded in order to improve input data quality estimations andframeworks for determining, calculating and presenting data, datauncertainties and results from MFA studies. However, theunderlying reality remains, e.g. that management of materialflows are important for understanding and reducing the negativeenvironmental impact. Thus, MFA is one useful tool in thiswork.
Keywords:data uncertainties, sensitivity analysis,Material flow analysis, MFA, method to determine datauncertainties, case study, ComBox model, nitrogenflows.
Stockholm: Kemiteknik , 2002. , xii, 39 p.
data uncertainies, sensitivity analysis, material flow analysis, MFA, method to determine data uncertainties, case study, ComBox model, nitrogen flows