Dematerialization: Explainer

Dematerialization refers to the absolute or relative reduction in the quantity of materials required to serve economic functions in society. The UNEP defines it as such”the reduction of total materials and energy throughput of any product and service, and thus the limitation of its environmental impact. This includes reduction of raw materials at the production stage, of energy and materials inputs at the use stage, and of waste at the disposal stage.”

Dematerialization is closely related to the term ephemeralization, a term coined by R. Buckminster Fuller, which he talked about as the ability of technological advancement to do “more and more with less and less until eventually, you can do everything with nothing.” Both dematerialization and ephemeralization present a clear route to a more sustainable economy.