Resource Optimization Initiative
About Industrial Ecology
Diagnostic Tools
System View
Material Flow Analysis or Resource Flow Analysis (MFA or RFA)
Why the Name "Industrial Ecology"
A Short History of Industrial Ecology
Resource Utilization Map
The Kalundborg Example
Substance Flow Analysis
The Industrial Ecology Agenda
Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)
Why Developing Countries
A Few Typical Strategy Options
How can these Concepts be used?
Who can benefit from Industrial Ecology
  System View


Industrial Ecology lays stress on a systemic approach. This means that instead of considering individual elements of a system in isolation, the entire system is viewed as a whole. For example, if we were to consider the environmental impact of an automobile, instead of just considering the pollution from an automobile plant, we study the entire automobile system involving, the production of the automobile, emissions from them, the impact of the road system (construction, maintenance etc.), the recycling of components and, their ultimate disposal. And of course, the kind of fuel the automobile uses (as this is by far the main impact of the automobile in its present form).

To make this simple, we can take another example. Here we take the most common problem from day to day life; pollution from vehicles on the roads. If we were to take a systems view, we would need to consider many other solutions to alleviate vehicular pollution other than the obvious one such as installing catalytic converters. We would need to understand why people travel and consider solutions to minimize this need to travel – by planning towns better, bringing services closer to people so that people do not have to travel, by improving public transport to reduce the number of vehicles on the road etc. Of course, any such systemic solutions cannot be immediate and for the short term, some conventional solutions are essential. However, the systemic solution is more lasting and creates a clear road map for the future.

It is left to the user to define “the system” for study. The system can be a geographical area such as a city or a region. Else, one can define the “system” as the jute industry in Bangladesh. The definition of the “system” depends on the purpose for which the research is being done as well as the researcher's perspective.

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