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Industrial Ecology

  • By: Rebecca R. Gasper & Matthias Ruth
  • In: Encyclopedia of Geography
  • Edited by: Barney Warf
  • Subject:General Geography, Earth & Environmental Science

Industrial processes alter their surrounding environment through emission of waste products and through the use of natural resources as raw materials to create goods and services. Industrial ecology is the study of the interaction between these two systems (i.e., industrial and environmental), emphasizing the design of manufacturing processes that minimize waste and reduce environmental impacts. Uniquely viewing human industry as part of a dynamic, linked network that includes the environment and the economy, industrial ecology seeks approaches to sustainable use of resources that work well from a holistic perspective. Increasingly, industrial ecologists have broadened their questions and approaches to study and guide material use from “cradle to cradle,” as opposed to just “cradle to grave,” taking into account not just the relations among processes but ...

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