Edited by Matthias Ruth and Brynhildur Davidsdottir
Chapter 1: The Dynamics of Regional and Networks in Industrial Ecosystems: Background and Concepts
1. The dynamics of regions and networks in industrial ecosystems: background and concepts Matthias Ruth and Brynhildur Davidsdottir Industrial ecosystems consist of the interplay of producers, consumers and regulatory agencies that exchange materials, energy and information with each other and their environment. Many of the processes that characterize such interplay are variable and changing over space and time – new technologies emerge and old ones are replaced, new materials and energy sources are developed, consumer needs and preferences evolve, and new resources and environmental repercussions are discovered. Regulatory interventions into materials and energy use by consumers and producers alter, and often are guided by, changes both at the process level and at the larger system level. For example, new understanding of the human health impacts of a material or recognition of global environmental harm from greenhouse gas emissions have prompted restrictions on the use of select substances, promotion of particular technologies, and implementation of incentives to reduce emissions. Typically neither do the activities of producers, consumers and regulatory agencies occur immediately in response to each other or to changes in the environment, nor are they typically in direct proportion to each other. Detection of environmental insult, for example, can take years or decades. Changing technologies, behaviors or institutions, likewise, is never instantaneous. If and when changes occur, they do so with respect to a combination of past situations and expectations of the future. The resulting time-delayed, often non-linear cause–effect relationships between actions and reactions in the industrial ecosystem make the...
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