The power of Industrial Ecology (IE) is the various practical applications and gained efficiencies that can be employed from the beginning to the end of any manufacturing process. Industrial Ecology – more commonly known as Business Circularity or Circular Production – allows for optimizing material reuse, supports product design and packaging innovations, spurs new business models, while transforming a company’s value chain for the better.
Industrial Ecology measures are manifold and are applied at almost every stage of a supply chain. Some of the most effective tools that support organizational transformation are:
- End-of-Life Product Design
- Life-cycle Analysis (LCA)
- Reverse Logistics
- Material Revalorization
- Industrial Symbiosis
- Eco-Effectiveness including Dematerialization and Material Substitution
- Service-model of manufacturing
These transformative manufacturing processes fundamentally support business circularity.
“Closing the Loop”
Industrial Ecology (IE) is the study of materials through a manufacturing system and energy flows within that system. One of the most effective ways of improving a company’s sustainability metrics is to optimize the material flow of production as it moves raw materials through a manufacturing system to a finished product.
IE asks us to think about the Earth and its resources as a closed system, one that recognizes that resources are not unlimited.
Within a circular manufacturing system, new products are designed to be recycled into other goods of same or lesser quality and/or revalorized back into new virgin-like products to be sold. In this system, optimized with the application of industrial ecology measures, when products reach their end-of-use period, they skip the trash bin and are funneled back into the same supply chain but in reverse. This forward and reverse supply chain allows for a circular flow of goods within product manufacturing, supporting more efficient material flow, sustainable material extraction, and improved product design, packaging, and material sourcing.