Industry as an
development, especially in the 19th and 20th centuries assumed an inexhaustible
supply of materials, energy, air, and water (the earth as an endless source).
Constant growth in the production of goods was valued and waste production
was not even considered a problem. Production measured by the GNP or Gross
National Product, or the total value of goods and services produced during
a given time period is taken as the indicator of progress, development,
and a nation's well-being.
shows the societal and industrial attitude toward the use of the earth
for human activities. This scheme shown in Figure IE1 below led to a loading
of air, water and land by various materials, both toxic and nontoxic.
IE1. Scheme of material flow in early Industry
of production and use of consumer products in general consists of energy
inputs and waste outputs at each stage, with limited energy recovery from
waste in some industries such as paper, and some recycling of materials
in industries such as aluminum. Because economic rather than environmental
concerns were at the forefront, and gasoline and diesel for transportation
was available cheaply, many production facilities were centralized to
take advantage of economies of scale. Large factories produced large quantities
of material and products, and a highway and rail system network distributed
these to points of use. Thus each transportation stage in the Figure IE1
consisted of an energy expenditure.
economies have considered an industry, corporation, or business firm as
a system, defined by their inputs and products. In this view, inputs are
capital, materials (including energy) and labor - things paid for by the
corporation. Outputs are products - goods and services the corporation
produces. In this view, a view of what the corporation had to account
for in its expenditures, waste and byproducts and especially pollution
were considered externalities "external" to the system
since the corporation did not have to pay for it.
view led to behaviors such as discarding waste materials into air, land,
and water without much thought. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,
created in 1970 by the National Environmental Protection Act of 1969,
forced industries to consider their waste streams as something they would
have to pay for and add to their list of expenditures or inputs. This
began to "internalized" some of the externalities. Pollution
became a "cost" to the corporation because it would have to
pay for remediation and disposal of waste and pollution.
the notion of the industrial system to include waste management at the
site of production. It took a while for this to extend to "wastes"
like the overburdening left at coal mines, land use, and other "costs"
to the environment and risks to the health of people and of nature
such as loss of biodiversity or incident of chronic disease. The
burdening of land, air, and water, especially near large population centers
such as cities or large industrial zones led to shortages of land and
pollution of air and water. With some of the waste material and emissions
being toxic, the nineteenth and twentieth centuries began seeing new "plagues"
such as black lung, asbestosis, emphysema, various forms of cancer, hormone
disruptions, nervous system effects and reproductive effects. It is a
well known fact that lead paint has had detrimental effects on children,
but it wasn't until the 1980's that exposure to lead in the air from gasoline
was proven to caused IQ deficits in children. [Needleman] The high cost
of caring for these new plagues and health related problems generated
interest in Industrial Ecology by many unrelated industries. It is now
starting to hit home that health care providers must pay the costs of
injured or ill workers due to toxic exposure to pollution.
depletion, air pollution, and the shortage of land and energy led to the
first examination by industry of how to recover material from used items
rather than continuing to extract new material from earth. The 1970's
also saw "embedded energy analysis", a technique to see how
much energy was used in our activities including product manufacture and
use. A closer look at "life cycle of products" began in the
mid-1980's. Figure IE2 shows a slightly altered scheme of production that
began to emerge, with some attempts at material recovery.
IE2. Life Cycle of Durable Products into Recycling of Material