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Material flow cost accounting (MFCA) is a management tool developed in Germany which focuses on the optimization of resources throughout operational flows. It examines the use of materials and energy as well as the waste produced, proposes the treatment of waste as resources, and therefore contributes to reductions in emissions and nonproducts, more efficient utilization of resources, and improved productivity. With its ISO 14051 standard published in 2011, which complements the ISO 14000 family of environmental management system standards, MFCA has helped numerous SMEs in advanced countries such as Germany, Japan, and the Republic of Korea to reduce waste and costs and thus increase profits and overall productivity. It is recognized and promoted internationally to address issues in productivity enhancement as well as environmental protection.
The Asian Productivity Organization (APO) has organized numerous demonstration projects on energy efficiency, MFCA, and related Green Productivity concepts. It has also conducted e-learning courses and published a training manual on ISO 14051 to assist member countries in adopting MFCA applications. However, SMEs in the Asia-Pacific are sometimes reluctant to attempt MFCA adoption due to a lack of information on how to start. At the same time, SMEs are widely regarded as a vulnerable sector that could benefit the most from MFCA.
Therefore, the APO, in collaboration with the National Productivity Organization (NPO) of Pakistan, conducted a training-of-trainers course on Material Flow Cost Accounting for SMEs in Islamabad, 2–6 September 2019. The course was held in conjunction with the APO–NPO International Conference on MFCA: Development of Demonstration Companies, which was attended by Federal Minister and Advisor to the Prime Minister for Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam as well as Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan. Twenty-one international and local participants from six APO member countries in addition to Pakistan attended the hands-on course as well as the conference.
MFCA is a relatively new concept in Pakistan, and therefore the main course objective was to provide a platform for company executives and environmental management professionals, including public-sector MFCA practitioners, to exchange real-life experiences, best practices, and information on waste management and MFCA applications. It also gave participants from the host country and Indonesia, IR Iran, Pakistan, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam an understanding of the concept of the circular economy and practical MFCA methodologies while helping the APO raise awareness of Green Productivity and strategies to meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals, particularly Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production.
The newly trained trainers are expected to design and conduct training programs that will guide SMEs in their home countries in improving organizational productivity performance through effective applications of MFCA and waste management by leveraging practical approaches and supplementary smart technologies. Importantly, the trainers will be able to disseminate success stories of MFCA implementation in SMEs and discuss their applicability or adaptability in their national contexts.