Eco-Accounting: How Industrial Ecology Can Pay Double Dividendes for Business

By Smith, W. G. B. | Journal of Business Administration and Policy Analysis, Annual 1999 | Go to article overview

Eco-Accounting: How Industrial Ecology Can Pay Double Dividendes for Business


Smith, W. G. B., Journal of Business Administration and Policy Analysis


THE PROBLEM

Human population growth and consumption now place unprecedented demands on the environment. Faced with these challenges, the Brundtland Commission recognised that the only way we would be able to continue to meet human needs was "by steadily reducing the energy and resource content of future economic growth" (WCED 1987: 213). In particular, Brundtland recommended that industrial operations should be encouraged "that are more efficient in terms of resource use, that generate less pollution and waste, that are based on the use of renewable rather than non-renewable resources, and that minimise irreversible adverse impacts on human health and the environment" (WCED 1987: 219).

Population and economic growth, and now more than ever, the lifestyles and consumption habits of more wealthy industrialised nations, draw massive amounts of energy and materials into the industrial system (Wernick et al. 1996). Studies show in North America that only seven percent of industrial throughput winds up as product and only 1.4 percent is still product after six months (Friend 1996). The waste generated per capita is now more than double that of the preceding generation (Davies & Mazurek 1997). Urban and industrial wastes are rapidly becoming potentially richer and more reliable material sources than naturally occurring ores and harvested fibres.

In nature, waste is the key to renewal. If we want to meet human needs and at the same time minimise the damage we do to the environment, then we will have to accept two challenges. We must steadily reduce the energy and material content of industrial production. At the same time, we must also increase our reliance on the use of industrial and post-consumer waste as the primary feedstock of future economic growth.

Canada's economy is characterised by a reliance on energy and natural resources. Because of the ready availability of energy, water, land and mineral resources, Canada is competitive in industrial sectors using these resources intensively. These industrial sectors (e.g., harvesting, extraction, food production, primary processing, energy generation and transportation) are generally more stressful to the environment than secondary manufacturing or service industries. The ratio of waste, contaminants, or resource recovery to useable product is very poor. Disposal, dispersion and dilution (end-of-pipe and end-of-stack solutions) are still the pollution and waste management approaches commonly in use. As long as Canada has a large backyard and under-prices its resources, there will not be much incentive for corporations to economise on the use of inputs or to minimise waste.

THE TRADITIONAL INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION AND MARKETING MODEL

In the 19th and early 20th centuries, we managed industry as if we had unlimited resources and could produce unlimited waste without doing any harm. The traditional once-through model of industrial production depends on cheap abundant resources and waste disposal. Most industrial processes are fossil-fuelled, make intensive use of energy and materials, involve high temperature and pressures, and contain multiple steps where harmful substances can be discharged to the environment. Products are mass-produced, have limited useful lives, are not easily repaired and are cheaply discarded. Producers' responsibility for their products ended at the plant gate.

Since the 1970's, governments have forced industry to respond to growing public concern one pollutant at a time by imposing "command and control" regulations. Command and control regulations specify the allowable rates of discharge based on the use of a particular technology. To comply with these regulations, most companies have installed add-on pollution control devices. By definition these control devices cannot reduce risks to zero and may produce waste requiring safe disposal. As the stringency of control increases, the use of pollution control devices is sharply limited by rising costs. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Eco-Accounting: How Industrial Ecology Can Pay Double Dividendes for Business
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.