One of the central principles of industrial ecology is that industrial systems can develop the types of mass efficiency and cycling of materials exhibited by natural ecosystems. The vision shared by many in the industrial ecology community is of tightly integrated, mass-efficient manufacturing processes, which require energy inputs, but which require few mass inputs and generate little or no waste. Is such a vision realistic? Is it already beginning to occur? This chapter will examine the potential for using wastes as raw materials, by addressing each of the following questions: what are the flows and compositions of waste streams and how can their potential use as raw materials be assessed and promoted, and what types of design tools are necessary for increasing the use of wastes as raw materials?
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