The Australian Industrial Ecology Network (AIEN) was established as a proprietary limited company in October 2014 to promote and facilitate industrial sustainability through the application of industrial ecology.
AIEN offers a forum in which members can keep in touch, canvas issues of interest and connect with resources associated with the practice and study of industrial ecology.
The company aims to provide a ‘window on the world’ of industrial ecology by relaying news, organising events and alerting people to developments in academia and in practice.
It offers ‘roadside-assistance’; a place to contact for initial help, such as initial advice or appropriate referrals, in dealing with matters relating to industrial ecology.
In effect, AIEN aspires to become the ‘go-to’ organisation for all things to do with industrial ecology, including collaboration on the design, planning and implementation of IE projects.
What is Industrial Ecology?
The overarching objective of industrial ecology is sustainable development, approached from the perspective of industry.
Industrial Ecology encompasses a wide range of inter-related scientific and academic activities, all aimed at improving industrial sustainability in practice.
Such activities might relate, for example, to urban renewal, recovering resources, generating clean energy, eco-industrial development or industrial symbiosis. They involve collaboration between people in occupations as diverse as public sector policy and administration, biology, economics, academia, environmental management, engineering, industrial design and education, to name just a few.
A particular objective of industrial ecology is that society achieves in the near future the concept of a Circular Economy, in which resources are conserved and all materials are reused again and again, indefinitely.
Industrial best practice and the formation of government policy are supported by analytical techniques such as life cycle assessment (LCA), materials flow analysis (MFA), various forms of footprint analysis and many other ways of developing information.
All these and many other elements of research and practice come within the ambit of industrial ecology and they do not apply only to manufacturing. Much of the knowledge and practice of industrial ecology applies also to extractive industries, such as mining and oil, agribusiness (such as farming and meat production), forestry, fisheries and even industries such as tourism and hospitality.
A fundamental tenet of industrial ecology is effective collaboration between people in government, academia and the private sector. Facilitating collaboration through its network of members is a core function of the Australian Industrial Ecology Network.
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