The ecological rucksack (or "Material Footprint") expresses the weight of all natural raw materials that are used for consumption, i.e., for all products including their production, use and disposal. In the case of driving, not only the car itself and its gasoline consumption are counted for this purpose, but also proportionately, for example, the iron ore mine, the steel mill and the road network.

Adding up all the raw materials gives a measure of the impact on the environment. This is because all material inputs and outputs cause changes in natural material flows and cycles. Sooner or later, every material input becomes an output again i.e., waste or emissions. By recording the inputs, the MIPS concept developed at the Wuppertal Institute enables a rough estimate of the total environmental impact potential. The abbreviation MIPS stands for "Material input per service unit".

Behind the ecological rucksack is the MIPS concept. MIPS is a measure of the consumption of nature caused by a product or service along its entire life cycle, from extraction, production and use to disposal or recycling.. MIPS can be applied for evaluating the the environmental implications of products, processes and services. The MIPS concept includes various indicators to measure the consumption of abiotic raw materials, biotic raw materials, water, air as well as soil movement. Thus, MIPS can be applied in a variety of ways in companies (micro level) and economies (macro level).


Katrin Bienge

Tel.: +49 202 2492-191

My ecological rucksack

How many resources do you consume?

Assess the ecological rucksack of your lifestyle. It only takes 10 minutes of your time to find out how sustainable your lifestyle is and how to make it more resource-efficient.

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Here you find publications on MIPS and material footprint.


Here you find research activities in the field of calculating resources.

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