A quick casual-Friday post featuring a distribution diagram of scrap (waste) exported from the United States in 2017. Based on data from the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI). Submitted by a reader of this blog.

The UK-based non-profit Community Interest Company (CIC) called ‘InfluenceMap’ has produced the below Sankey diagram on obstructive climate lobbying of oil firms and interest groups. These are the spendings in US$ for an unspecified year (possibly 2015).


Source: InfluenceMap, Media Downloads
(via Hypergeometric blog)

Streams are color coded to specify the type of spending (e.g. staff cost, direct lobbying, party donations). Note that the yellow flows (in the range up to 230.000 US$) are not to scale with the others that are on a million US$ range. Some of the elements that represent the sources and the black sum arrow are also overemphasized, showing a height that is larger than the sum of the individual arrow magnitudes. So this is not fully adherent to the principles of a Sankey diagram … but to be fair: they never claimed that it is a Sankey diagram.

This is maybe the first Sankey diagram ever to be featured in the US Senate. Senator [D-RI] Sheldon Whitehouse (yes, that really is his name … you just have to love his “Whitehouse Statement on …” catchphrase) used it in a US Senate testimony in April 2016.

Watch the video how the Whitehouse does quite well explaining the streams of money and to underpin his message with the Sankey diagram. Jump in at 0:25 secs to see Sankey make its Senate appearance…

Ann Arbor based consulting firm RRS has published a Sankey diagam visualization of the plastic streams in the United States. This is from their Data Corner blog.

Breakdown is in percentage values only. The amount of 8,300 MMT seems to be an aggregated figure for a 65 year period from 1950 to 2015. And 80% has ended up on landfills.

Original data is from a study ‘Production, Use, and Fate of All Plastics Ever Made’ authored by Roland Geyer of the University of California, Santa Barbara; Jenna Jambeck of the University of Georgia; and Kara Law from the Sea Education Association.

Couldn’t help but laugh, despite the seriousness of the topic.

Lazaro Gamio of Axios, a “new media company delivering vital, trustworthy news (…) with expertise, voice AND smart brevity”, has created this Sankey diagram infographic to illustrate the Twitter attacks by Trump and who they were targeting. Shown in a blog post by Axios’ Stef Knight.


via Dataviz blog

Very comical use of Sankey diagrams. I love the red tie and just imagine how it will continue to move out to the right shoulder as POTUS’ Twitter attacks on the media continue. Great!

Another way to look at energy flows! Here is a Sankey diagram of US feed-to-food caloric flux. This is from a paper by Shepon et.al. titled ‘Energy and protein feed-to-food conversion efficiencies in the US and potential food security gains from dietary changes’ published October 2016 in Environmental Research Letters (Environ. Res. Lett. 11 (2016) 105002 – doi:10.1088/1748-9326/11/10/105002) under Creative Commons CC 3.0

Flows are in Pcal (Peta calories, 1012 kcal). Production figures are based on data from U.S. National Research Council and a “Mean American Diet” (MAD) with an average consumption of 2500 kcal per day is used. We can see energy in three feed classes being transformed into energy in edible animal products. The authors explain:

“On the right, parenthetical percentages are the food-out/feed-in caloric conversion efficiencies of individual livestock categories. (…) Overall, 1187 Pcal of feed are converted into 83 Pcal edible animal products, reflecting a weighted mean conversion efficiency of approximately 7%.”

In light of this, energy conversion efficiencies of 30-40% seem to be fantastic…

Check out the article for another Sankey diagram of protein flux.

After showing two variants for visualizing the U.S trade balance in my last post, I got aware of yet another option. The first figure (infographic by Spiegel Online) used the length of the arrows to express the value of imported and exported goods. My remake version used the magitude (width) of the arrows, as is typical for Sankey diagrams.

In this figure (by Anthony Cohen, University of Illinois, 2012 / Wikicommons) for US trade in 2011 the arrows for import (red) and export (green) are proportional to the total value of goods, just as we are used to see it in a Sankey diagram. But the arrows are superimposed, with the narrower green export arrow on top of the wider red import arrow. This creates another, somewhat more dramatic impression.

Data shown is for 2011 in billion USD for the 15 most important trade partners. Arrows are not labeled with absolute figures, instead a legend at the bottom indicates the width of five default arrows. The arrow from and to Mexico is a problem (no joke intended!), but the legend clarifies that arrows don’t indicate a specific geographic routing.

When German Chancellor Angela Merkel meets with POTUS today, one topic that’s most likely going to be addressed is the trade deficit between the United States and the EU, Germany in particular.

The Spiegel, a major German news outlet, has illustrated recent articles on this subject with the figure below. It shows the volume of trade between the United States and ‘selected countries’ (China, Canada, Mexico and the EU) in 2015. The values indicate the value of goods exported (green arrows) to these countries, and imported (blue) from them into the U.S. in billion US$.


Source: Spiegel Online

The interesting thing in this infographic is that the length of the arrows represents the value of goods traded. For example, the arrow for exports from the US to Europe (274 bnUS$ in 2015) is little over half the length of the blue incoming arrow (431 bnUS$ in 2015). This works fine, with the only exception being the green arrow for exports to Mexico.

This infographic of course invited a remake as Sankey diagram. As you all know, in Sankey diagrams the widths of the arrows represent the quantity.

I did two or three different versions, all very similar to the original infographic in style and color, even using the lower states map icon (sorry Alaska and Hawaii). I was not sure at first whether the separate arrows for Germany were values already included in the EU trade volume, or if they were meant to be on top of it. A quick look into the original data revealed that indeed they are included in the EU figures already. I therefore decided to highlight the German share in the Sankey diagram with a slightly brighter color, but keep those arrows stacked.

Here is my Sankey diagram version of the Spiegel infographic.

Not sure which version I prefer, but using the length instead the widths of the arrows to represent the flow quantity is definitely a unique approach. Worth sharing with you, I think.

The Sankey diagram-like graph shows the sequence of events in the criminal justice system.


For a high-res version and more details, please go to the Bureau of Justice Statistics BJS/DOJ website.

Note: There are no numbers, and the widths of the colored arrows are similar. I guess it is safe to assume that this is a schematic diagram only and does not represent real numbers.