Keywords: scale, human geography, transnational corporations, TNCs, business ethics, Holcim, industrial ecology, ontology, multiscalar landscapes, good practice, environmental behaviour, cement, local industrial symbiosis
Multiscalar landscapes: transnational corporations, business ethics and industrial ecology
This article connects Industrial Ecology (IE) to two literatures which the discipline has, to date, ignored. The first is the human geography literature on 'scale'. I argue that IE suffers something of a blind spot when it comes to appreciating the ontology of multiscalar landscapes. Following the geographers I argue for re-thinking scale as comprising multiple, overlapping socio-political constructions. The second literature is the equally burgeoning one on business ethics. Combining insights from these sources an attempt is made to discern which scales are involved in the formation of business ethics and 'good practice' environmental behaviour, illustrated here with reference to the transnational cement group, Holcim. I propose an analytical framework which brings scale, ethics, and industrial ecology together and suggest that absence/presence of scalar alignment may explain why many evaluations of local industrial symbiosis projects find in practice that success is elusive, patchy and difficult to sustain, but that on the contrary in some cases positive outcomes give grounds for optimism.