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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 26: Industrial ecology: the UK

Heinz Schandl and Niels Schulz


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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