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Last updated: February 19, 2015


A Price Tag that Reflects the Ecological Cost of a Product – Material Input Per Unit Service (MIPS)

Posted: 11 July 2014

Part 1: Introduction to Dr. Friedrich Scmidt Bleek & Dr. Ernst Ulrich von Weizsacker

Ideas discussed in this article come from the work of German intellectual Professor Friedrich Schmidt Bleek from his 2001 book, “The Earth.” Professor Friedrich Schmidt-Bleek previously worked for the Wuppertal Institute in Germany.

Dr.Friedrich Schmidt-Bleek from Germany, Director of the Factor 10 Institute
Above: Professor Schmidt Bleek at the Wuppertal Institute in Germany discussing MIPS. Notice the compound equation on the chalkboard.
The Wuppertal Institute is dedicated to researching and developing sustainable business practices for the present and future as well as dematerializing the present western powers use of resources by a Factor of 10. Dr. Schmidt Bleek’s website is at with the latest written content posted in 2008. Some milestones in his education and career include:
  1. 1958 Diploma in Chemistry, University of Bonn
  2. 1960 PhD. Nuclear and Radiation Chemistry University of Mainz
  3. 1972-1974 Faculty member of the University of Kansas
  4. 1993 Director, Dep. of Material Flows and Eco-restructuring and Vice President of Wuppertal Institute (1994-1997)
  5. 1997 Founding President of Factor-10 Institute.
  6. 2001- Recipient of Takeda Award - World Environment Award, with Ernst Ulrich von Weiszacker for the MIPS concept.
The Earth is on Amazon

Today Dr. Schmidt Bleek is now an elderly scientist, retired presumably residing in Germany or possibly in Carnoules, France where his last known occupation was as President of the Factor 10 Institute which he founded.  For his contribution of developing an economic principle called Material Input Per unit Service (MIPS) he and another famous German scientist/ politician (Ernst Ulrich von Weizsacker) together won a Japanese World Environment Award (Takeda Award) in 2001. 

As a Chemist, Dr. Schmidt Bleek would naturally be an expert in stoichiometry - the process of balancing products and reactants of chemical reactions. We now know that many of the problems of the environment are from toxic chemical pollution, so it makes sense that a person gifted in balancing chemical equations could be a great help in solving environmental problems. What he has contributed is above and beyond what one would expect from merely a chemist. It is the work of someone who understands not just on a chemical level instead on an economically mature and responsible and sustainable bigger picture level for the creation of “a future with a future.”

Scientist Founder of Wuppertal Institute: Ernst Ulrich von Weizsacker:

Ernst Ulrich von Weizsacker is a German politician, scientist, author and founder of the Wuppertal Institute. He is the son of the physicist Carl Friedrich Weizsacker and nephew of the former German president Richard Von Weizsacker. Ernst was born June 25, 1939 in Zurich, Switzerland. He is a member of the Social Democratic party of Germany. The books he has written are:  Factor 4, Earth Politics, Ecological Tax Reform: A policy proposal for sustainable development.

A rucksack is a backpack, typically made of a strong waterproof material and often used by hikers. So what does Dr. Friedrich Schmidt-Bleek mean by “ecological rucksack”? 

- Andrea Boggs

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