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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 11: Process analysis approach to industrial ecology

Urmila Diwekar and Mitchell J. Small


Urmila Diwekar and Mitchell J. Small Industrial ecology is the study of the flows of materials and energy in industrial and consumer activities, of the effects of these flows on the environment, and of the influence of economic, political and social factors on the use, transformation and disposition of resources (White 1994). Industrial ecology applies the principles of material and energy balance, traditionally used by scientists and engineers to analyze well-defined ecological systems or industrial unit operations, to more complex systems of natural and human interaction. These systems can involve activities and resource utilization over scales ranging from single industrial plants to entire sectors, regions or economies. In so doing, the laws of conservation must incorporate a number of interacting economic, social and environmental processes and parameters. Furthermore, new methods and data are required to identify the appropriate principles and laws of thermodynamics at these higher levels of aggregation (Ayres 1995a, 1995b). Figure 11.1 presents a conceptual framework for industrial ecology applied at different scales of spatial and economic organization, evaluating alternative management options using different types of information, tools for analysis and criteria for performance evaluation. As one moves from the small scale of a single unit operation or industrial production plant to the larger scales of an integrated industrial park, community, firm or sector, the available management options expand from simple changes in process operation and inputs to more complex resource management strategies, including integrated waste recycling and re-use options. Special focus has...

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