Keywords: industrial ecology, sustainable development, evolution, optimisation, evolutionary systems modelling and simulation
Modelling industrial ecosystems and the "problem" of evolution
Since the emergence of industrial ecology in the 1950s and its take-off during the 1990s, much progress in theory, policy and practice has been achieved. However, there is still progress to be made in many areas. One area is the 'problem' of evolution and its inclusion in definitions and modelling. Although the importance of evolution is stressed it is often confused with the optimisation of energy and material flows. After reviewing issues of generalised models of IE, problems of three, often-cited industrial ecosystems of Kalundborg, Styria and Massachusetts are highlighted. A new evolutionary framework, with simulation capabilities, is reviewed and the advantages, in contrast to typical models, are highlighted. In particular, it enables the exploration of future scenarios of industrial ecosystems with respect to the human dimension and its impact on normal events such as new actors emerging, takeovers and the introduction of innovative (and sustainable) technologies and policies.