A documentary showing a chain of factories in Denmark that use waste from one industry as raw material for another (industrial ecology/symbiosis). The concept of Industrial Ecology has been criticised on the following issues:
- It assumes that declining volume of raw materials used per unit of gross national product (GNP) constitutes a process of dematerialisation, that is, to an overall reduction in material consumption and therefore pollution. However, others have argued that over time, dematerialisation has not reduced the amount of matter/energy extracted, waste/emissions released. Dematerialisation contributes to reducing unit costs of production, which accelerates the circulation of capital, cheapens and thus intensifies the appropriation of material and energy from nature, and therefore exacerbates the global environmental impacts of industry. See: Bunker, S. G. (1996). Raw material and the global economy: Oversights and distortions in industrial ecology. Society & Natural Resources: An International Journal, 9(4), 419-429.
- Current linear economy starts with high quality materials (fossil fuels, ores) extracted from the earth, and returns them to nature in degraded form. To achieve a ‘closed’ material cycle requires:
- Material cycling to help reduce, or at least slow the growth of, dissipative material throughput.
- ‘Entropy cycling’ that refines high entropy wastes back into low entropy raw materials. See: O’Rourke, D., Connelly, L., & Koshland, C. P. (1996). Industriai ecoiogy: A critical review. Int. J. Environment and Pollution, 6(2/3), 89. Entropy cycling is generally ignored in the Industrial Ecology literature. E.g.: Ehrenfeld (1994) ”The loop is closed by routing waste materials from the source of those wastes to other entities that use them as feedstocks”. For descriptions of the concept of entropy, see: Second law of thermodynamics (Through the wormhole) and more elaborately Entropy (Caltech).