FIGURE 1

Product life cycle.

attitudes in progressive firms are evolving to the point where environmental issues are no longer viewed as problems to be defended against or prevented. Instead, the environment presents opportunities to transform management practices to make environmentally superior products and services and gain competitive advantage (Booz, Allen and Hamilton, 1991).

Although firms are making progress on the environmental front, current efforts will not significantly improve the environmental characteristics of the current industrial ecology. If the ultimate goal is a closed industrial ecosystem that consumes limited resources and produces limited wastes (Frosch and Gallopoulos, 1989), then industry and society cannot simply minimize product impact on the environment. Attention must also focus on optimizing material flows and integrating the life cycles of diverse products, so that waste streams from one activity become the raw material for another.

Such changes will require radical transformation in industrial practices and relationships. In most cases, technology probably will not be the limiting factor, a lesson learned in recent years as companies have adopted pollution prevention practices. Rather, cultural and organizational changes within industry (as well as changing the behavior of consumers and government agencies) will most likely present greater obstacles.



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement