Edited by Matthias Ruth and Brynhildur Davidsdottir
Chapter 2: Beyond a Sack of Resources: Nature as a Model – the Core Features of Industrial Ecology
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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