Material Matters

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* Book: Material Matters. The Importance of Matter – An alternative to Overexploitation by Thomas Rau and Sabine Oberhuber.


"Waste is a forgotten raw material: the first step is to organise the management of its identity."


The book exists in Dutch, German and Italian-language editions, not yet in English.

Contextual Citation

“Earth is the only rightful owner of all raw materials and all matter and there is only one ‘permanent member’ who has a real right of veto: Nature.”

- Universal Declaration of Material Rights


by Alessandro Speccher:

This book "offers a critical and thoughtful perspective on how to take advantage of raw materials, in a historical moment when this kind of reflection needs promoting.

The book publication coincided roughly with the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, an occasion that the authors used, metaphorically, to present to the UN the Universal Declaration of Material Rights (UDMR) – included in the book’s appendix – accompanied by the following message, “Earth is the only rightful owner of all raw materials and all matter and there is only one ‘permanent member’ who has a real right of veto: Nature.” Thus, Material Matters becomes a book which goes hand and hand with the Declaration, explaining its genesis and describing its founding pillars, but also promoting debate and making an interesting contribution to the technical-scientific debate. " (


by Alessandro Speccher:

"he authors think that the linear economy, “organised in such a way that nobody is held accountable for the consequences of their actions,” is hard to overcome because it is still not understood. Paraphrasing Kelvin, “You cannot improve what you do not know, you cannot know what you cannot measure.” Not knowing the system’s limits, the absence of data, and the specialisation approach that tends to lose sight of the whole are the barriers to rediscovering the circular economy.

The separation between “power” and “responsibility” is identified as the genesis of the current model. “Consumers are expected to deal with too much: there is no way they can take upon themselves the responsibility to solve such problems, therefore the consequences of manufacturers’ decisions are always collectivised as waste.” Since consumers have no idea about the chain that led to the production of the item they are using, they feel relieved of responsibility and helpless when faced with problems caused by an economic and production model where they are just the last link in the chain.

The Turntoo Model, developed by the authors and presented in the book through theoretical discussion and numerous concrete examples such as LAAS (Light as a Service by Philips) or AAAS (Appliance As a Service by Bosch) intends to offer an answer to this problem. It develops the concept of “product as a service,” debated for decades and a pillar of the circular economy, offering a possible answer to the question: what happens when a manufacturer no longer intends to use the materials making up the basis of its services? The answer to this question draws inspiration from an interesting reflection on the identity of waste. What is waste if not anonymous material?" (