Emerging Field Of Industrial Ecology

February 13, 1998

New Haven, Conn. -- Technology, traditionally seen as the enemy of the environment, is likely to be a positive environmental force in the 21st century. Not only will technology help feed 10-12 billion people inhabiting the planet, but it also is likely to be central to improving the overall quality of life, according to Thomas E. Graedel, professor at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.

Graedel, who teaches industrial ecology, is an expert in helping corporations find ways to bring new products to market with the least environmental stress. "The emerging field of industrial ecology, which sometimes is termed the science and technology of sustainability, focuses on development that is sustainable over the long term," Graedel said Feb. 13 at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Philadelphia.

"Industrial ecology is not merely some feel-good movement, but a vital necessity in this time of concern about pollution hazards and finite natural resources," he said. "Indeed, it serves as the paradigm around which much industrial design and development activity centers. The word ecology implies that one should conserve and reuse resources of all kinds."

The industrial process has four central players: the materials extractor or grower, the materials processor or manufacturer, the user and the scavenger. To the extent that each encourages recycling of materials, the industrial process evolves into a more efficient operation that has less environmental impact and more closely resembles a balanced biological ecosystem, Graedel said.

He gave several examples of ways to design materials and products that do more with less and how to recover materials through recycling.

He also advocated techniques that make it possible to upgrade rather than discard products. Specifically, he recommended:

"Industrial ecology, a movement that is less than a decade old, encourages cooperation between business executives and environmental scientists during the planning, product design and customer response stages," said Graedel, a chemical engineer. "The tools of industrial ecology include product life-cycle assessment, design for the environment and materials flow analysis. Get used to these terms because they are the business terms of the next century."
-end-


Yale University

Related Technology Articles from Brightsurf:

December issue SLAS Technology features 'advances in technology to address COVID-19'
The December issue of SLAS Technology is a special collection featuring the cover article, ''Advances in Technology to Address COVID-19'' by editors Edward Kai-Hua Chow, Ph.D., (National University of Singapore), Pak Kin Wong, Ph.D., (The Pennsylvania State University, PA, USA) and Xianting Ding, Ph.D., (Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai, China).

October issue SLAS Technology now available
The October issue of SLAS Technology features the cover article, 'Role of Digital Microfl-uidics in Enabling Access to Laboratory Automation and Making Biology Programmable' by Varun B.

Robot technology for everyone or only for the average person?
Robot technology is being used more and more in health rehabilitation and in working life.

Novel biomarker technology for cancer diagnostics
A new way of identifying cancer biomarkers has been developed by researchers at Lund University in Sweden.

Technology innovation for neurology
TU Graz researcher Francesco Greco has developed ultra-light tattoo electrodes that are hardly noticeable on the skin and make long-term measurements of brain activity cheaper and easier.

April's SLAS Technology is now available
April's Edition of SLAS Technology Features Cover Article, 'CURATE.AI: Optimizing Personalized Medicine with Artificial Intelligence'.

Technology in higher education: learning with it instead of from it
Technology has shifted the way that professors teach students in higher education.

Post-lithium technology
Next-generation batteries will probably see the replacement of lithium ions by more abundant and environmentally benign alkali metal or multivalent ions.

Rethinking the role of technology in the classroom
Introducing tablets and laptops to the classroom has certain educational virtues, according to Annahita Ball, an assistant professor in the University at Buffalo School of Social Work, but her research suggests that tech has its limitations as well.

The science and technology of FAST
The Five hundred-meter Aperture Spherical radio Telescope (FAST), located in a radio quiet zone, with the targets (e.g., radio pulsars and neutron stars, galactic and extragalactic 21-cm HI emission).

Read More: Technology News and Technology Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.