As a new field, industrial ecology is a cluster of concepts, tools, metaphors and exemplary applications and objectives. Some aspects of the field have well-defined relationships, whereas other elements are only loosely grouped together, connected as much by the enthusiasm of the proponents as by a well-articulated intellectual architecture. We do not see this looseness as a fatal flaw in an emerging field, but rather as an opportunity for creativity and constructive discourse, and as a challenge.

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