Industrial Ecology as Regional Corporate Sustainability System
Dr. Leo Baas,

Erasmus University Rotterdam,

P.O. Box 1738, Rotterdam,

The Netherlands.

Tel.: +31.10.4082381


Industrial ecology, described as: `an integrated system, in which the consumption of energy and materials is optimised and the effluents of one process serve as the raw material(s) or energy for another process,’ is a well-known concept worldwide. The industrial ecology concept was introduced to industrial leaders as a prevention-oriented paradigm for achieving cleaner industry and more sustainable communities. The Industrial Symbiosis approach in Kalundborg (Denmark) is used as illustration of growing links of utilities and waste applications between companies in an industry complex. Nevertheless, the dissemination of industrial symbiosis is not experienced as an easy process

Industrial routines are embedded in unsustainable practices that are difficult to change. The complexity and uncertainties of new concepts are often approached with ignorance and misperception.

The complex system of Eco-Industrial Parks involving different companies and actors (including their different activities and targets) that is required for the existence and development of industrial ecology in a region is an important, but time-consuming variable. The integration of economic, environmental and social dimensions in industrial activities is increasingly perceived as a necessary condition for a sustainable society. In the recent decade, global trends in environment related issues within multi-national corporations have incorporated different dimensions in the concepts of environmental management (ecology), cleaner production (ecology, economy), industrial ecology (ecology, economy) and corporate social responsibility (ecology, economy, social aspects).

Considering the practical experiences of the introduction and dissemination of industrial ecology from a systemic perspective, the concept is addressing  material and energy streams as they result from human activities. The presentation will reflect to three social science dimensions:

1. These activities do not occur in a vacuum, they are embedded, that is, they are shaped by the context in which they occur, described in terms of cognitive, structural, cultural, political, spatial and temporal embeddedness (Boons, Baas, 2006).

2. In mapping different approaches in sustainable development, socio-economic well-being and equality issues are requiring changes based on increasing environmental concerns, in a status quo, reform, or transformation mode (Hopwood, 2005).

3. The type of capabilities that are needed for changes beyond status quo solutions (Baas, Boons, 2007).

The social science dimensions will be connected to ongoing developments in the Rotterdam Harbour and Industry Complex that started in 1994. Especially two cases, 1: the start of the application of waste heat for district heating of 3,000 houses in February 2007 and leading to a total number of 500,000 houses in 2020, and 2: the start of the production of breeding shrimps in the Happy Shrimp Farm on an industrial ecology basis in March 2007, illustrate the need of longer-term Sustainability System approaches.

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All Submissions
8:00 AM-8:00 PM, Friday, June 15, 2007, Oral

The Ontario, Canada 2007 Meeting