Work and eco-efficiency: opportunities and limitations
In industrial ecology, the interaction of industrial and ecological systems has been approached mainly with concepts of metabolism, material flows and ecological metaphors. Less attention has been paid to the concept of work. In this article I study the contribution of eco-efficiency to social and ecological sustainability from the perspective of human work, work performed by technology and work performed by ecosystems. Eco-efficiency produces benefits, but also equity problems at the national and worldwide level, as well as occupational health and safety problems. The effects on employment have not been noteworthy. All in all, measures that increase eco-efficiency will strengthen the process of change of work, which is already occurring in our societies and in global markets.
Keywords: work, eco-efficiency, information society, dematerialisation, occupational health, safety, industrial ecology, sustainability, sustainable development