Industrial ecology seeks to apply the knowledge of systems in nature to the design and operation of industrial activities, to achieve integrated and sustainable relationships between the natural world and industry. Although the theoretical underpinning of the field corresponds in some ways to that of the emerging discipline of sustainability science, industrial ecology has evolved along two main directions that may
be more practical for industry and policymakers:
‘eco-industrial parks’ and islands of
sustainability; and ‘dematerialization–decarbonization’ and the service economy. The
opportunities and risks associated with applying the concepts of industrial ecology have been argued globally. This article provides an overview of how the concepts have already been applied to some extent in South Africa.
We recommend how industrial ecology may
be nurtured here, prioritizing areas where the field can be institutionalized.