Changing Stocks, Flows and Behaviors in Industrial Ecosystems

Changing Stocks, Flows and Behaviors in Industrial Ecosystems

Edited by Matthias Ruth and Brynhildur Davidsdottir

Industrial ecology provides a consistent material and energetic description of human production and consumption processes in the larger context of environmental and socioeconomic change. The contributors to this book offer methodologies for such descriptions, focusing on the dynamics associated with stocks of materials and capital, flows of raw materials, intermediate products, desired outputs and wastes, as well as the associated changes in behaviors of producers, consumers and institutions.

Chapter 2: Beyond a Sack of Resources: Nature as a Model – the Core Features of Industrial Ecology

Ralf Isenmann, Christoph Bey and Martina Keitsch

Subjects: business and management, management and sustainability, organisation studies, economics and finance, industrial organisation, environment, environmental management, environmental sociology


2. Beyond a sack of resources: nature as a model – the core feature of industrial ecology Ralf Isenmann, Christoph Bey and Martina Keitsch INTRODUCTION Since its launch nearly two decades ago (Ayres and Simonis 1994; Erkman 1997), industrial ecology (IE) has grown from being just a smart “idea” (Frosch 1992: 800) to a “somewhat fuzzy concept” (Ehrenfeld 2000: 229), giving rise to a professional international society. It now constitutes a “powerful prism” (ISIE 2006) with numerous tools, studies, publications, resources and other characteristics that make it a discipline (Ehrenfeld 2000, 2001). Industrial ecology’s main goal is to study industrial systems and their fundamental linkage with natural ecosystems, thereby contributing to a more sustainable future. As an intellectual area, industrial ecology’s scientific community, with its professional academic culture, has a growing impact on governmental agendas, business applications in industry and higher education programs. As it develops into more of an institution, now is the vital time to assess industrial ecology’s disciplinary contours from a philosophical point of view, thus uncovering the constitutive characteristics in the field. Industrial ecology lays claim to an established intellectual area and a permanent form of institutional legitimacy. With a need “to improve the craft and to demonstrate the value of industrial ecology” (Lifset 2002: 1), clarifying industrial ecology’s identity and uniqueness, especially through defining its basics and highlighting tacit assumptions, will support intellectual and institutional development. As a result, such an effort will secure a place for industrial ecology within the scientific...

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