John R Ehrenfeld and Marian R Chertow

Much of industrial ecology is concerned with where resources come from - whether natural or man-made - and where they ultimately wind up. The focus can be on a single element such as lead or nitrogen, a single resource such as energy, or on multiple resources such as energy, water and materials. This focus is applied at different scales: from the facility level, to the inter-firm level, to a river or other regional site and, indeed, globally.

The branch of industrial ecology known as industrial symbiosis involves the physical exchange of materials, energy, water and by-products among several organizations. Thus, as indicated in Figure 27.1, it occurs at the inter-firm level. The keys to industrial symbiosis are collaboration and the synergistic possibilities offered by geographical proximity. As such, industrial symbiosis is not simply a passive examination or description of resource flows, but an active means of choosing the ones that are most useful in a localized economic system and arranging them accordingly. Ultimately, industrial symbiosis relies on a much different form of organization than is typical of conventional business arrangements. Therefore this chapter has two goals: (a) to discuss industrial symbiosis as a collective approach to competitive advantage through examination of an

Sustainability

Industrial Ecology

Industrial Ecology

Facility or Firm

• design for environment

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