Industrial Ecology and Industrial Production: Concepts and Applications

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Industrial Ecology and Industrial Production: Concepts and ApplicationsDonald I. Lyons Department of Geography University of North Texas


Introduction: The Basic IssueEnvironmental ProblemsconsumptionReduceChange the nature


Nature of ConsumptionconsumptionHow goods are producedHow goods are consumed


Confronting the “efficiency” of U.S. production and consumption 93% of the materials extracted never end up in saleable products 80% of products are discarded after a single use 90% of the original materials used in the production of, or contained within, the goods made in the U.S. become waste within six weeks For every 100 pounds of product we manufacture in the U.S. we create at least 3200 pounds of waste(Cohen-Rosenthal, 2004)


Alternative modes of production a new paradigm for capitalist production that Minimizes environmental impacts from extraction, production and disposal While retaining the essential driving mechanism of capitalism, i.e., profit


Industrial Ecologyan industrial ecosystem mimics the material efficiency of natural ecosystems Via the optimal circulation of materials and energy Substituting virgin materials with used materials and products (i.e., wastes) during production processes Extraction is minimized Waste is minimized Material use is maximized Closing the loop on materials/products =minimizing the damage to the environment


Industrial Ecology Operates at Three LevelsFrom: Chertow, 2004


Material cycling conversion of products and materials from initial use to another use: either as a functional whole or component (remanufacturing) As material (recycling) Energy catalyst (waste treatment)


Two basic models in the literatureHomogeneous wastes


Kalundborg Industrial Ecosystem


Kalundborg, Denmark


Strategies for material cycling Homogeneous wastes


Heterogeneous WastesCharacterized by a high degree of heterogeneity Widely dispersed May need aggregation Require minimum thresholds (i.e., minimum volume of input) May need to be reconstituted May be sold in different market segments Highly sensitive to transport costs


Basic geographic questionsWhere in the settlement hierarchy? Possible spatial scales? Village—town—metropolitan area—region—country What’s the spatial range of market hinterlands? Possible spatial scales? individual plant—industrial park—corporation Town—metropolitan area—region—country


Cultural-economic contextWhat is the cultural-economic context within which material cycling can occur? How would the firms communicate with each other? Perception of the value of the firms within the local community?


How firms interact over spaceInput-output transactionsUncertainties and fluctuationsWays of communicatingSuccessful regionsUnsuccessful regionsExtensive flows of knowledge and trustLimited flows of knowledge and trust


How firms are perceived in their localities Supportive milieu leads to successful firms and regionsBusinessPublic/business Material Support: Local financial institutions (capital) Government agencies (applied science) Other firms (knowledge, markets) Cultural Support: Sense of worth and belonging Demand for RRWT products


How can we test some of these ideas? Firms that currently engaged in: recycling remanufacturing waste treatment are experts are profitably coordinating waste conversion from initial to another use


History of Recycling, remanufacturing and waste treatment firms A viable scrap recycling industry has existed since the middle of the 19th century 56,061 recycling and remanufacturing firms in the US, employing over 1.1 million (Beck, Inc. 2001) Over 2 million employees in 2001 (Andrews and Maurer, 2001)


A caution!Not a panacea Face technological, environmental and economic limitations Can substantially reduce the ultimate volume of waste Reduce demand for virgin raw materials Reduce costs of disposal


Research Design and Administration367 firms we identified from the State of Texas’ Commission on Environmental Quality’s Material Exchange Website A Material Exchange is essentially a business directory for firms or other entities dealing with wastes, recyclables and used goods Modified Total Design Method (mail survey technique) A technique developed by Dillman (1978, 2002) Response Rate: 367 questionnaires sent out 80 returned by U.S. Postal Service 17 had no physical location in Texas 103 were returned = response rate of 38 percent


Description of Recyclable Categories


Basic characteristics of the firms Recycling firms mostly small, Texas based, family owned, and old Remanufacturers Somewhat larger, mostly Texas owned, and young Waste treatment firms somewhat larger, more corporate and young Overall, mostly small Texas based firms with a scattering of larger corporations


Position in the settlement hierarchyFirms are found throughout the settlement hierarchy Over ½ in the 4 large metro’s (about 10% smaller proportion than total manufacturing) Another ¼ in the 21 smaller metro’s (e.g., Lubbock) ( about 4% smaller proportion than total manufacturing) Final ¼ in rural areas (7% larger proportion than total manufacturing)


Spatial Range of Market hinterlands3 types of hinterland structure Locally clustered (compost, niche and electronic cores) Local inputs exceed 75%; (commercial) over 50% of outputs to local area (commercial) Export oriented (scrap, diversionary, paper) Local inputs exceed 75%; (municipal) Less than 25% outputs to local area (primary markets, e.g., mills) Multi-scale clustered (waste treatment, niche recycling) similar levels of inputs and outputs at local, regional and national levels; (markets vary)


Local perception of the firms Most difficult issues: local negative perception Convincing the local economic development community of their significance Less difficult issues: Expansion capital available Markets for outputs available No perceived problems with unfair tax subsidies to virgin producers

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Last Updated: 8th March 2018