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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.
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Chapter 3: The recent history of industrial ecology

Suren Erkman


Suren Erkman* Industrial ecology has been manifest intuitively for quite a long time. In the course of the past 30 years the several attempts made in that direction mostly remained marginal. The expression re-emerged in the early 1990s, at first among a number of industrial engineers connected with the National Academy of Engineering in the USA. So far, there is no standard definition of industrial ecology, and a number of authors do not make a clear difference between industrial metabolism and industrial ecology. The distinction, however, makes sense not only from a methodological point of view, but also in a historical perspective: the ‘industrial metabolism’ analogy was currently in use during the 1980s, especially in relation to the pioneering work of Robert Ayres, first in the US, then at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA, Laxenburg, Austria) with William Stigliani and colleagues, and more recently at INSEAD (Fontainebleau, France) (Ayres and Kneese 1969; Ayres 1989a, 1989b, 1992b, 1993b; Ayres et al. 1989; Stigliani and Jaffé 1993; Stigliani and Anderberg 1994; Lohm et al. 1994). At about the same time, the metabolic metaphor was pursued independently by Peter Baccini, Paul Brunner and their colleagues at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETHZ) (Baccini and Brunner 1991; Brunner et al. 1994). In parallel, it should be recalled that there is a long tradition of organic metaphors in the history of evolutionary economics (Hodgson 1993a, 1993b). INDUSTRIAL ECOLOGY: EARLIER ATTEMPTS There is little doubt that the concept of industrial...

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