The “Next” Industrial Revolution?
If you missed today, we discussed the “next” industrial revolution. Did you know it was underway?
The last industrial revolution gave us the linear material flow economy we diagrammed this week. While recycling programs do reduce some waste disposal and some extraction, they focus on the “downstream” end of that flow. Today, we learned of an ecoindustrial revolution that seeks to eliminate the concept of waste (so, waste = food). Yes, it seems like an oxymoron but we are talking about industrial ecology (text pages 645-646). Idealistic? If you missed the movie shown in class, here is a 20 minute TEDTalk by William McDonough (from 2005)on some of his design ideas you should watch:
Seems idealistic, but you have to realize this is ALREADY changing BIG businesses (like Nike, Ford) in positive ways. If we do focus on good design (redesign) and refuse to use toxins in production, we can prevent a great deal of waste (esp. hazardous waste) and spend less money on/spend less time worrying about trash and recycling it. Some texts call this idea the “P2″ approach (Pollution Prevention). So, Will McDonough is a champion of a new set of Rs and if his revolution succeeds, we’ll no longer have a “grave.”
Notice this puts a greater burden on engineers and product designers to eliminate waste, and lesser burden on the consumer to dispose of it. So, McDonough envisions all things being designed to stay in one of two cycles: biological and technical. Biological products are for consumption and can be composted. Technical products are “products of service” and can be recycled indefinately. Radical?
*Folks in class saw me submerge a book (meant to be made of a technical cycle nutrient) in a beaker of water. Several folks were curious about the material use to make that book, Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way we Make Things, so here is a little more info on it (thanks, NatalieB): http://www.mcdonough.com/cradle_to_cradle.htm
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