What is Industrial Ecology?
Industrial ecology is a rapidly growing field that systematically examines local, regional and global materials and energy uses and flows in products, processes, industrial sectors and economies. It focuses on the potential role of industry in reducing environmental burdens throughout the product life cycle from the extraction of raw materials, to the production of goods, to the use of those goods and to the management of the resulting wastes. Industrial ecology is ecological in that it (1) places human activity — industry in the very broadest sense — in the larger context of the biophysical environment from which we obtain resources and into which we place our wastes, and (2) looks to the natural world for models of highly efficient use of resources, energy and byproducts. By selectively applying these models, the environmental performance of industry can be improved. Industrial ecology sees corporate entities as key players in the protection of the environment, particularly where technological innovation is an avenue for environmental improvement. As repositories of technological expertise in our society, corporations provide crucial leverage in attacking environmental problems through product and process design.
About the Journal
The Journal of Industrial Ecology addresses a series of related topics:
- material and energy flows studies (‘industrial metabolism’)
- technological change
- dematerialization and decarbonization
- life cycle planning, design and assessment
- design for the environment
- extended producer responsibility (‘product stewardship’)
- eco-industrial parks (‘industrial symbiosis’)
- product-oriented environmental policy