The ecological rucksack (or "Material Footprint") expresses the weight of all natural raw materials used for consumption, i.e. all products including their production, use, and disposal.

With regard to driving, it is not just the car itself and petrol consumption that are taken into account but also, proportionately, the iron ore mine, the steel mill and the road network, for example. 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 provides a rough estimate of the total environmental impact potential. MIPS stands for "material input per service unit".

The MIPS concept is the basis of the ecological rucksack. MIPS is a measure of the consumption of natural resources caused by a product or service along its entire life cycle, from extraction, production, and use to disposal or recycling. MIPS can be used to evaluate 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 and air, and soil movement. Thus, MIPS can be applied in a variety of ways within companies (micro level) and economies (macro level).


Katrin Bienge

Tel.: +49 202 2492-191

My ecological rucksack

How much do you consume?

Assess your ecological rucksack. It only takes ten 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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