2015/07/05 09:50 Tom Graedel, “Industrial Ecology’s First Decade”, ISIE, U. Surrey

Plenary talk by Tom Graedel, @YaleCIE, at “Taking Stock of Industrial Ecology”, 8th Biennial Conference of the International Society for Industrial Ecology, University of Surrey, Guildford, July 7-10, 2015

This digest was created in real-time during the meeting, based on the speaker’s presentation(s) and comments from the audience. The content should not be viewed as an official transcript of the meeting, but only as an interpretation by a single individual. Lapses, grammatical errors, and typing mistakes may not have been corrected. Questions about content should be directed to the originator. The digest has been made available for purposes of scholarship by David Ing.

Plenary talks for ISIE 2015 are by contributors to an open access volume, Taking Stock of Industrial Ecology, available online as open access e-book from Springer in fall 2015.  See the table of contents and the Springer book description.


Volume chapter with Reid Lifset, Research Scholar and Resident Fellow, Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, and Editor in Chief of the Journal of Industrial Ecology

Thomas E. Graedel is Clifton R. Musser Professor of Industrial Ecology, Professor of Chemical Engineering, and Professor of Geology and Geophysics at Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, and Director of the Center for Industrial Ecology

[Tom Graedel]

How the field sprang up

  • Talk will be personal
  • Will emphasize a few individuals who were important in the early days

Robert Frosch, lead author in IE’s first paper

  • Was head of NASA
  • Then VP of Research at GM
  • Then originated the concept of the human cycling of resources as a systems challenge, i.e. the first paper of Industrial Ecology
  • In “Managing the Planet Earth”, Scientific American 1989
  • Industrial activity should be transformed into a more integrated model:  an industrial ecosystem
  • Editors rejected the title “Manufacturing:  The industrial ecosystem view” for “Strategies for Manufacturing

After that article, several corporations started to think about use of resources and energy, and how they fit into other systems

  • 6 corporations as founder
  • AT&T
  • Motorola
  • IBM
  • Phillips
  • 3M
  • Xerox
  • Could argue some more
  • In the early 1990s, these organization said, yes, we’re making stuff, we’re using stuff and energy, we need to think more carefully
  • Life cycle assessment
  • Looking at material flows
  • Unlike other fields of study that originated in academic community, it was stimulated by industrial community

Robert Socolow, professor mechanical engineering at Princeton

  • Hosted 1992 Snowmass Conference on Industrial Ecology and Social Change
  • He chose to “industrial metabolism and industrial ecology”, and chose the latter as being larger in scope
  • Book:  Industrial Ecology and Social change, published 1994

1995 meeting of 15-20 international scholars:  should this embryonic field have a journal?

  • Where do we send manuscripts?
  • Led to Reid Lifset becoming editor for JIE-2015 (and counting)
  • MIT Press, with Yale U. as owner

JIE v1 n1, 1997

  • Thin in size, robust in content
  • Size and scope have increased, impact factor 3.23, pretty high

2001, product of another meeting held in New York, decided to start the International Society for Industrial Ecology

Meetings:  Leiden 2005, Ann Arbor 2003, Stockholm 2005, Toronto 2007, Lison 2009, Berkeley 2011, Ulsan Korea 2013, now Surrey 2015

ISIE Society Prizes recognized

  • 2003, Robert Ayres, was originator of material flow, metabolism of industry

Laudise Prize for young researchers, 2003 Edgar Hertwich (head of department at NTNU), who has lived up to the promise

Society has 6 sections:

  • Eco-industrial development

Gordon Research Conferences on Industrial Ecology are held in alternate years to ISIE

Teaching:  1995 book by Graedel and Allenby, Industrial Ecology

Industrial Ecology courses now being taught in 190 universities in 46 countries

Some phrases that people may like better

  • The science of the circular economy
  • The science behind sustainability
  • The field that quantifies the Anthropocene

thomas graedel yale center industrial ecology

[Roland Clift: Chemical engineering outside the pipe]

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