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Title: Sustainable production, allocation and consumption : creating steady-state economic structures in industrial ecology
Author: Bey, Christoph
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2003
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Industrial Ecology is an application of environmental management transcending the boundary of the individual firm. By comparing industrial systems to natural ecosystems, Industrial Ecology aims to emulate the sustainable state of the latter. Although research is flourishing, there are only very limited examples of Industrial Ecology in practice. Its proposed end state of a sustainable economic system is encapsulated in Thomas Graedel’s “type III” system, where all ecosystem components live on their exchange products, and the whole system runs exclusively on solar radiation as its source of energy. This doctoral thesis is conceived from the recognition that the idea of Industrial Ecology is in conflict with the application of it, and the field thus needs to be grounded in a solid body of theory. Therefore, this thesis examines for the first time the soundness of ideas and current practice of Industrial Ecology in the context of the fields of science concerned: Ecological economics has the purpose to understand the relationship between ecological and economic systems. It is the recognition of the biophysical limits to economic activity that is applied to Industrial Ecology in this thesis. The aim of embedding the economic system into the natural system that ecological economics and Industrial Ecology have in common is examined in the light of research in theoretical ecology, understanding the dynamics of ecosystem development. The consequences for industrial ecological systems lie in the insight that food chains are merely the expression of underlying energetic relationships, and it is the latter that drive an ecosystem in its development towards a mature and stable state. As Industrial Ecology’s method is to compare economic systems to natural systems, the soundness of this method needs to be ascertained. The translation of ideas from one area to another constitutes a use of metaphor, and it is in the valid transfer of ideas that Industrial Ecology has its merit. Consequently, a chapter of the thesis investigates the transfer of ideas in the context of Industrial Ecology. In a final analytical chapter, the idea of Industrial Ecology is compared to the realities of the current system of international business enterprise.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available