IE is concerned with the flows of energy and materials in society, their environmental consequences and impact on the societal and economic system. IE professionals can help to understand, manage and reduce environmental risks at product, organizational and global levels.
Industrial ecology for business
IE professionals can generate a competitive advantage by aligning sustainability issues with business goals, finding new business opportunities using systems thinking, and making sound decisions using a data-driven approach. Business shouldn’t slow down because of environmental challenges, but can use these environmental challenges to strengthen business.
Industrial ecology for government
It is impossible to assess the level of sustainability of policy without using systems thinking: therefore, it is impossible to design sustainable policy without systems thinking. IE professionals, system thinkers, can provide policy advice on a wide range of sustainability related topics such as energy systems, waste management policy, climate change and the circular economy.
Industrial ecology for academia
According to the journal of Industrial Ecology, the industrial ecology field:
“addresses a series of related topics including, material and energy flows studies (‘industrial metabolism’), technological change, dematerialization and decarbonization, life cycle planning, design and assessment, design for the environment, extended producer responsibility (‘product stewardship’), eco-industrial parks (‘industrial symbiosis’), product-oriented environmental, policy eco-efficiency.”