Industrial Ecology – Subaru

I love diagrams like this... and nothing is more diagrammed than the idealistic dream of industrial ecology. The problem I'm having is finding the case studies that apply these principles. The picture above links to an open course on the topic...

There are huge gaps in my knowledge around industrial ecology (or it’s new title; “industrial symbiosis”) and yet it is a story I want to know more about. The famous Kalundborg industrial park is the poster story, of integrated fabrication with cyclical processes, waste becoming food, becoming waste, becoming food in an increasingly closed loop. More information here.

But beyond Kalundborg, it is hard to find many good stories. I’d love if someone more aware of these processes might have something to share, there is a lot more to learn. In the mean time, I recently read an article about Subaru’s manufacturing plant in Indiana that got me thinking. Here’s an opening quote from the article:

Toyota made kaizen—the Japanese principle of constant “change for the better,” with a special focus on efficiency, aka “pushing lean”—famous. [Subaru], you could say, has instilled green kaizen, or pushing green. Starting in 2002, SIA set a five-year target for becoming the nation’s first zero-landfill car factory. That meant recycling or composting 98 percent of the plant’s waste—with an on-site broker taking bids for paper, plastic, glass, and metals—and incinerating the remaining 2 percent that isn’t recoverable at a nearby waste-to-fuel operation to sell power back to the grid. Within two years, the results spoke for themselves.

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Strategic Design – Good Quote

I love the quote below from Yves Behar, as it summarizes my whole conversation about what is required to create real change. When asked about what car companies needed to do in order to break free from their design stagnation he said:

“They need original design briefs and 21st-century business models.”

Note: he did not call for “improved design process”, or a specific tool like “life cycle analysis” or “biomimicry”. He asked for better briefs, and the freedom within business to challenge existing models that create revenue streams. In essence;

Better questions, and new value models.

Not bad…


Receding Ice and Expensive Oil, Yay for Greenland!

By Oregon State University Archives, available Creative Commons, via flickr

With oil over $60 a barrel, and the icy lands of Greenland slowly defrosting, there’s no need to panic, no need for doomsday scenarios of the future. In fact, it’s a cause for celebration; “drill baby, drill!”

This businessweek article highlights the contradictions between the need to realistically consider tough decisions to explore scenarios of sustainability, vs the desire to chase profits wherever they exist. If it is knowingly possible to drill oil in a habitat that has become exposed thanks to the burning of fossil fuels, without ever taking into consideration the cost of the side effects, scenarios of sustainability will simply not be explored until humanity faces a realistic threat of extinction.

Should we just party hard and let our grandchildren fight it out?

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