University of Oulu

Pablo Piñero, Ignacio Cazcarro, Iñaki Arto, Ilmo Mäenpää, Artti Juutinen, Eva Pongrácz, Accounting for Raw Material Embodied in Imports by Multi-regional Input-Output Modelling and Life Cycle Assessment, Using Finland as a Study Case, Ecological Economics, Volume 152, 2018, Pages 40-50, ISSN 0921-8009,

Accounting for raw material embodied in imports by multi-regional input-output modelling and life cycle assessment, using Finland as a study case

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Author: Piñero, Pablo1; Cazcarro, Ignacio2,3; Arto, Iñaki2;
Organizations: 1Energy and Environmental Engineering, Faculty of Technology, P.O. Box 4300, FI-90014, University of Oulu, Finland
2Basque Centre for Climate Change (BC3), Sede Building 1, 1st Floor, Scientific Campus of the University of the Basque Country, 48940 Leioa, Spain
3ARAID (Aragonese Agency for Research and Development) researcher, Agrifood Institute of Aragon (IA2), Department of Economic Analysis, University of Zaragoza, Spain
4Department of Economics, Oulu Business School, P.O. Box 4600, FI-90014, University of Oulu, Finland
5Finnish Environment Institute SYKE, P.O. Box 140, FI-00251, Helsinki, Finland
6Natural Resources Institute Finland, P.O. Box 413, FI-90014, Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: accepted version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.4 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Elsevier, 2018
Publish Date: 2020-12-23


The two main methods used to estimate raw material embodied in imports are life cycle assessment (LCA) and multi-regional input-output (MRIO) models. The key advantage of LCA is its higher product resolution but it relies on global or regional averages, which could bias results. Our outcomes suggest that this obstacle could be avoided for primary goods if domestic process data are collected, since the necessary raw materials are mostly extracted from the environment of the direct trade partner. Conversely, for many other products, intermediate inputs are produced following a wide range of blueprints and cross multiple borders, which makes it challenging to determine how and where raw materials needed for their production originate. For these products, a method to combine the superior coverage of MRIO with the product resolution of LCA is evaluated here, using imports to Finland as a study case. The analysis provides insights on how to identify critical supply chains and illustrates a relatively simple, replicable solution that can be used in other regions or environmental accounts. Nevertheless, the existing resolution of MRIO models and dissimilarities in classifications between the two tools could constitute a new source of errors if not properly handled.

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Series: Ecological economics. The transdisciplinary journal of the International Society for Ecological Economics
ISSN: 0921-8009
ISSN-E: 1873-6106
ISSN-L: 0921-8009
Volume: 152
Pages: 40 - 50
DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2018.02.021
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1172 Environmental sciences
Funding: Pablo Piñero acknowledges the University of Oulu Graduate School and the AURORA Doctoral Programme for financial support for this research.
Copyright information: © 2018 Elsevier B.V. This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license