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close this bookIndustrial Metabolism: Restructuring for Sustainable Development (UNU, 1994, 376 pages)
close this folderPart 3: Further implications
close this folder13. Transfer of clean(er) technologies to developing countries
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentIntroduction
View the documentSustainable development
View the documentEnvironmentally sound technology, clean(er) technology
View the documentIndustrial metabolism
View the documentKnowledge and technology transfer
View the documentEndogenous capacity
View the documentCrucial elements of endogenous capacity-building
View the documentInternational cooperation for clean(er) technologies
View the documentConclusions
View the documentTwo case-studies
View the documentReferences
View the documentBibliography

Industrial metabolism

The "industrial metabolism" concept may help us to understand better the complex chain of steps from raw materials and energy inputs to final products, and enhances awareness of the concomitant production of wastes and by-products: "Industrial metabolism encompasses both production and consumption, the entire system for the transformation of materials, the energy and value-yielding process essential to economic development" (Ayres, 1989).

Application of the industrial metabolism concept involves detailed accounting of the flows of materials and energy through human activities, and so helps to reveal opportunities to save energy and materials (with little or no investment), thus resulting in decreased resource ex- But it has been justly observed that "the history of the chemical industry is one of finding new uses for what were formerly waste products" (Ayres, 1989), a process that may be enhanced by the right price signals.

Sometimes the disposal of the product itself, after its useful life, constitutes an environmental hazard. The industrial metabolism concept thus calls for a long-term global perspective that will stimulate the cutting down of wastes and increase the recycling of residues.