Saturday, 28 June 2008

Industrial Ecology

Concept of Industrial Ecology represents a relatively new and leading edge for manufacturing and business, which has just been intensively considered within the last 10 years. The concept of Industrial ecology was made popular since it was published in Scientific American by Frosch and Gallopoulos (1989) and was first formalized in 1993 by Indigo Development, a team of people from Dalhouse University in Nova Scotia and Cornell University’s Work and Environment Initiative. The concept was further developed by Ayres and Ayres (1996) as well as Ehrenfeld and Gertlet (1997).

Dramatic improvement on knowledge and technology has made levels of consumption on goods and services globally increase. This led to the increase of consumption on material and energy resources while, the biosphere’s capacity to provide resources is limited. At the limits to material throughput, sustainability requires that the growth in the consumption of goods and service be accompanied by a proportional decline in the energy and material intensity of that consumption. This is one of the ideas behind development of Ecological approach to industrial system.

Another consideration is an awereness that the move to the ‘sutainable development’ needs to include industrial sector in their economic activities. However, to include industry in reaching ‘sustainability’, basic development to increase quality on industrial environment and resources efficiency is required, as well as an integrated industrial activities with their community. Implementing industrial ecology involves such things as life cycle analysis, closed loop processing, reusing and recycling, design for environment and waste exchange.

Industrial ecology adapts the ecosystem analogy in industrial system, which is principally concerned with the flow of materials and energy through system at different scale, from product to factories and up to national and global level. In a concept of industrial ecology, industrial system is not viewed as a single system isolated form its neighborhood, but as a unity. It refers to the exchange of materials between different industrial sectors where the waste output of one industry becomes the feedstock of another. In this system, material cycle is optimized, from raw material, components, products and final waste, including resources, energy and capital. Ecology on industry, manufacture etc. is aimed to begin reducing in using energy and material (dematerializing) in a frame of global economy.

One of the elements of industrial ecology is industrial symbiosis. Industrial sysmbiosis focus on flow of materials and energy through network of businesses and other organizations in local and regional economies. It consists of place-based exchanges among different entities that defer a collective benefit greater than the sum of individual benefits that could be achieved by acting alone. Such collaboration can also increase social capital among the participants enganging in exchanges. This collaborations also examines technical and regulatory considerations that have come into play in various locations that can facilitate or inhibit industrial symbiosis. Finally, it considers future directions with regard to industrial symbiosis based on historical and current experience.

Source :
1. Chertow, M. Uncovering Industrial Symbiosis, Journal of Industrial Ecology vol. 11 no. 1
pg 11-30 MIT and Yale University, 2007
2. Korhonen, J. Some Suggestions for Regional Industrial Ecosistems – Extended Industrial Ecology. Eco Management and Auditing 8, pg 57-69, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. And ERP Environment, 2001
3. Peck, Steven W. Industrial Ecology : From Theory To Practice can be accessed at

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