Achieving Sustainable Development through Industrial Ecology


Posted by iEcology | Posted in Industrial Ecology | Posted on 13-07

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Sustainable development has been a very wide topic that has been discussed a lot these days due to a lot of environmental issues. Industrial ecology in this sector offers a lot of new scope for study. In the sense, industrial ecology offers method that can assist corporations and organizations in sustainable operations.

Sustainable Development as defined by the Brundtland Commission is the economic and social development that meets the needs of the present generation without compromising on the needs for the future generation. There were nonetheless other definitions given by other academicians too, although all of them have more or less the same idea of sustainable development resting on three main pillars.

The three pillars are:

1. Economy (Profit)
2. Society(People)
3. Environment(Planet)

Now the concept of industrial ecology is nothing different than the ordinary meaning of ecology. But before going deep into the fundamentals of industrial ecology and how it affects sustainable development we need to know what ecology actually means. Ecology is defined as that branch of biology that deals with the relationship of one organism with the other and their physical surroundings. Combining the industrial sector, we get the concept of industrial ecology. Industrial ecology, simply put, is the relationship with the earth’s ecosystem and the industrial sector. Now since the Earth does not have an abundance of resources, in the same way the pattern of industrial development cannot continue infinitely. What industrial ecology aims at is how industrial processes can become a part of an essentially closed cycle.

Industrial ecology per se does not have any definition as such but has many attributes coming along with it. It is a multidisciplinary approach with the study of material and energy flows. Apart from having an orientation for the future, it also has an effort to reduce the industrial’s systems to the environment. There have been several analogies on industrial ecology and sustainable development. Industrial ecology drives the analogy between industrial and natural systems. They also suggest that the appropriate goal is to stimulate the evolution of the industrial system. The evolution of the industrial system from a linear system is dissipated into the system into a more closed system.

The main goal of the industrial ecology would be to reach this dynamic equilibrium and have a very high degree of interconnectedness that exists very well in nature. Industrial ecology also aims at changing the current environmental issues as merely local, company-specific, where the solutions are often difficult to find.

Coming to how we can maintain sustainable development through industrial ecology, we have the following methods. Pollution prevention, waste minimization, source reduction, total quality environmental management et al.

Lastly we can say that both of them go hand in hand. It is like two sides of the same coin. On the one hand, industrial ecology has its advantages, but again has to be maintained keeping in mind sustainable development such that neither one is at a disadvantage. Following some of the above mentioned methods can be beneficial.

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