Monday, 26 October 2015

New special issue of the JIE on Frontiers in Socio-economic Metabolism Research

In a new special issue, Frontiers in Socioeconomic Metabolism Research, Yale’s Journal of Industrial Ecology presents cutting edge research on the physical interaction between the economy and the natural resources that support it.  In its early years, research in industrial ecology conducted under the rubric of industrial or socio-economic metabolism focused on material flow analyses (MFA).  These quantified the inputs, outputs and changes to characterize resource flows, especially at the country level.  However, over time, the application of MFA was increasingly applied to firms, facilities, supply chains, substance and product life cycles, cities, regions and groups of countries.   It was also combined with other methodologies, such as footprint analysis, input-output analysis, and network analysis.

A quarter century after the notion was proposed as a key element in industry ecology, socio-economic metabolism and the material, energy, substance flow analyses that are used to explore it have become richer, more methodologically sophisticated, and engaged in providing reliable scientific information about the magnitude of material use, related environmental impacts, supply security for specific resources, and the potential for decoupling material use from human well-being.
The special issue includes:

  • Analyses of the concept, its soundness, and its foundations
  • New historical understanding of its antecedents
  • A proposal for terminology across the different methodological approaches including MFA, SFA, IOA, and general equilibrium modeling
  • Uncertainty analysis for material flow accounts
  • A review of MFA in the domain of waste management
  • Analysis of embodied land use in trade, options for land footprint analysis, and human appropriation of net primary productivity
  • Calculation of the circularity of the economy of the European Union and the globe
  • Integration of water metabolism into research on socio-economic metabolism
  • Accounting for stocks, long-term material flows, and urban metabolism
  • Material flow analyses of iron, steel, and specialty metals
The Journal of Industrial Ecology is a bimonthly peer-reviewed scientific journal, owned by Yale University, published by Wiley-Blackwell and headquartered at the Yale University School of Forestry & Environmental Studies.  

Articles in the special issue are freely downloadable for a limited time at

Reid Lifset

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Gordon Research Conference in Industrial Ecology 2016

Opportunities for the critical decade – decoupling well-being from environmental pressures and impacts

The second wave of industrialization and urbanization in many developing countries, and continuing economic growth and consumption in industrialized countries, have led to an acceleration of natural resource use, climate change and a suite of related environmental impacts. The supply chains for natural resources have become more complex and it is harder today to gain knowledge about the environmental footprint of certain products and processes. While the industrialization of developing countries has lifted millions out of poverty it has also contributed to increased global environmental change. To reverse this trend, and to allow the global economy to stay within the limits of the Earth’s resources and ecosystems, the new sustainable development goals call for economic activity and consumption and production processes to be underpinned by large investment and appropriate policy settings to guide decoupling of economic activity from environmental pressure and impacts. This opens a huge window of opportunity for industrial ecology to deliver the knowledge base to transition the current economic pattern to sustainable consumption and production. Industrial ecology concepts and tools support creating sustainable value chains for products and services, to build human settlements and design industrial systems to be maintained with lower material and energy throughput and with fewer emissions. For new industrial ecology technologies and practices to become economically viable and socially acceptable it will require new policy settings and business decisions supported by institutions and governance arrangements that encourage and drive innovation and experiments that ultimately serve decoupling. This conference will investigate the newest insights from the science of industrial ecology to support technological solutions, policy innovation and new business models for sustainable development. This is a critical decade for reconciling human development and environmental protection and we explore the contribution industrial ecology can make.

The 10th biennial Gordon Research Conference on Industrial Ecology (GRC-IE) will be held at the Stoweflake Conference Center, Stowe, Vermont, June 19 to 24, 2016. A companion meeting for graduate students and post-doctoral researchers, the Gordon Research Seminar on Industrial Ecology (GRS-IE), will be held in conjunction with the GRC-IE. 

Please see the websites for more information:

Heinz Schandl 
CSIRO, Australia
2016 GRC Conference Chair