Table of Contents

A Handbook of Industrial Ecology

A Handbook of Industrial Ecology

Edited by Robert U. Ayres and Leslie W. Ayres

Industrial ecology is coming of age and this superb book brings together leading scholars to present a state-of-the-art overviews of the subject. Each part of the book comprehensively covers the following issues in a systematic style: the goals and achievements of industrial ecology and the history of the field; methodology, covering the main approaches to analysis and assessment; economics and industrial ecology; industrial ecology at the national/regional level; industrial ecology at the sectoral/materials level; and applications and policy implications.

Chapter 1: Industrial ecology: goals and definitions

Reid Lifset and Thomas E. Graedel

Subjects: business and management, management and sustainability, economics and finance, industrial economics, environment, ecological economics, environmental management


1. Industrial ecology: goals and definitions Reid Lifset and Thomas E. Graedel Setting out the goals and boundaries of an emerging field is a hapless task. Set them too conservatively and the potential of the field is thwarted. Set them too expansively and the field loses its distinctive identity. Spend too much time on this task and scarce resources may be diverted from making concrete progress in the field. But in a field with a name as provocative and oxymoronic as industrial ecology, the description of the goals and definitions is crucial. Hence this introductory chapter describes the field of industrial ecology, identifying its key topics, characteristic approaches and tools. The objective is to provide a map of the endeavors that comprise industrial ecology and how those endeavors relate to each other. In doing so, we seek to provide a common basis of discussion, allowing us then to delve into more conceptual discussions of the nature of the field. No field has unanimity on goals and boundaries. A field as new and as ambitious as industrial ecology surely has a long way to go to achieve even a measure of consensus on these matters, but, as we hope this chapter shows, there is much that is coalescing in research, analysis and practice. DEFINING INDUSTRIAL ECOLOGY The very name industrial ecology conveys some of the content of the field. Industrial ecology is industrial in that it focuses on product design and manufacturing processes. It views firms as agents for...