Heinz Schandl and Niels Schulz Industrial ecology aims at an ecological restructuring of the industrial economy, fostering environmental soundness in production and consumption. It has been argued that this aim could be supported by positive side-eﬀects of structural change (Jänicke et al. 1989), leading to economic and ecological advantage at the same time. This has also been referred to by the notion of an ‘eﬃciency revolution’ (Weizsäcker et al. 1997) or ‘dematerialization’. Structural change and technological innovations can be either supported or hindered by political interventions aimed at changing the framing conditions of industrial activities. An integrated economic and environmental policy can provide such a framework and thus intervene in the economic process to support ecological improvements within the economy. Such an approach would proﬁt by a thorough understanding of the system dynamics of society’s interaction with ecosystems. One mode of this interaction is society’s industrial metabolism. Understanding of the characteristics of this metabolism, both historically and currently, supports our understanding of the functioning of complex society–nature interactions and helps to increase the chance of successful interventions aimed at future ecological modernization of the production system (Christoﬀ 1998). Indicators derived from an accounting on the basis of the theoretical concept of industrial metabolism help to reduce complexity and thereby to move decision-making processes in the direction of sustainability. These indicators should be theoretically correct, policy-relevant and feasible. The material ﬂow accounting approach oﬀers a complementary accounting framework that can generate useful indicators for...
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