UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources


Tingting Zhang

Thesis title: Material Footprints for Corporations – a Tool for Management, Modelling, and Reporting

Primary supervisor: Paul Ekins
Secondary supervisor: Raimund Bleischwitz

Start date: Sept 2018
Completion date: Sept 2022 

Economic development results in increasing use of resources and may double or even triple by 2050, according to UNEP’s estimates, which is likely to exceed the Earth’s capacity. Reducing the consumption of materials is of paramount importance and needs indicators at the corporate level, which is the main topic of this PhD. We will translate a core indicator, the material footprint, into a framework for business. This undertaking intends to fill a significant gap as most of the previous research focusses on national economies and international trade. Our research will develop a corporate material footprint model (CMFM) and establish a corporate material footprint (CMF) reporting framework.
Based on latest data, our novel method will develop a CMFM building on a time-series of CMF. Testing it we seek to understand hotspots of corporate consumption. Geared towards impacts, a CMF reporting standard will be established based on the results from our CMFM and ongoing research on SDG12 (sustainability and efficiency of natural resource use).
The expected contribution of this research is the potential assistance to companies in particular from ODA countries to monitor their resource use more efficiently. The outcomes will help to propose policies on a circular economy and resource efficiency. Establishing such reporting standard will also increase the transparency of corporations and the comparability of sustainability reports.


I completed my undergraduate study in China (09/2012-06/2016) and postgraduate study in the University of Sydney (07/2016-06/2018).
In the undergraduate education, I remained the top 1 in the accounting program for seven consecutive semesters. I achieved a National Scholarship (top 3% in China) in 2015, and First-class Scholarship for seven times. I was awarded two provincial awards, i.e., the Excellent Graduate and Outstanding Student Representative. I won many competition awards, such as the 2015 Championship in the Case Competition of College Students' Accounting and Business Management on Both Sides of the Taiwan Straits; the National First Prize of China University Business Challenge in 2015; the Provincial First Prize of China College Students’ Entrepreneurship Competition in 2014 and the Provincial First Prize of the 14th “FLTRP CUP” English Public Speaking Contest in 2013. I have also co-authoring two research articles in national journal in China.
During my graduate study, I earned two academic achievements (top 3 out of 434 students for two courses: Quantitative Methods for Accounting, and Corporate Governance and Accountability). In summers, I did internships in New Oriental English to teach IELTS.
My research interests are material footprint, sustainability reporting, social and environmental accounting and sustainability.