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Reconsidering industrial metabolism: from analogy to denoting actuality

Wassenaar T.. 2015. Journal of Industrial Ecology, 19 (5) : p. 715-727.

Metabolism is a key concept in industrial ecology (IE). Industrial metabolism (IM) is widely used but seldom discussed, and the rare contributions discussing the concept show divergent views, so the debate is still open. Building on recent contributions that broaden the scope of the epistemological debate, the goal of the present discussion is to go beyond the general statement of IM as a biological analogy in IE. The aim is to infer a definition by a thorough deduction so as to further the debate or even federate the community. An etymological analysis demonstrates the eligibility of standpoints other than biological analogy. Moreover, an analysis of the biological characteristics of a metabolism to be emulated may question the pertinence of the currently employed biological analogy. Here, I propose an alternative view based on the present analysis results and in line with modern ecological precepts, whereby IM is considered as an actual phenomenon. According to the definition derived from the analysis¿human-mediated matter change for sustaining a productive system's economic activity¿IM should be considered as a subset of a complex system of interconnected transformative processes across all scales of life: the metabolic network. The consequences and promising future orientations that may result from adopting such a shift in definition are succinctly explored. (Résumé d'auteur)

Mots-clés : méthodologie; métabolisme; analyse de système; Écologie; industrie

Thématique : Agro-industrie; Autres thèmes; Méthodes de recherche; Ecologie végétale; Ecologie animale

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