Chapter 32: Wastes as raw materials
David T. Allen One of the central principles of industrial ecology is that industrial systems can develop the types of mass eﬃciency and cycling of materials exhibited by natural ecosystems. The vision shared by many in the industrial ecology community is of tightly integrated, masseﬃcient manufacturing processes, which require energy inputs, but which require few mass inputs and generate little or no waste. Is such a vision realistic? Is it already beginning to occur? This chapter will examine the potential for using wastes as raw materials, by addressing each of the following questions: what are the ﬂows and compositions of waste streams and how can their potential use as raw materials be assessed and promoted, and what types of design tools are necessary for increasing the use of wastes as raw materials? FLOWS AND COMPOSITIONS OF WASTE STREAMS AND THE USE OF WASTES AS RAW MATERIALS Advanced industrialized economies typically utilize 40–80 tons of material per year, per capita (Adriaanse et al. 1997). Comparative analyses of these material ﬂows for the USA, Germany, Japan and Austria are provided elsewhere in this handbook; from these analyses it is clear that most materials used by highly industrialized economies are used once, then become wastes. Therefore most of the 40–80 tons of material used per year, per capita, become wastes. The sheer magnitude of waste generation is cause for concern and drives us to identify characteristics of the wastes, methods of waste management and the potential for reducing wastes....
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