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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1942/14715

Title: Integration of ecosystem services as a separate productive input to assess innovative bio-based processes
Authors: Maes, Dries
Van Passel, Steven
Issue Date: 2012
Citation: ISEE 2012 Conference - Ecological Economics and Rio+20 : Challenges and Contributions for a Green Economy, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 16-19 June2012
Abstract: Industry is confronted with systemic environmental problems such as limited fossil resources, sustainability concerns of renewable resources, toxicity of end products and waste accumulation. This triggers the pursuit of new processes and business models. New pathways are being developed. For instance, the agro-industrial and chemical sector define pathways including biorefineries, material production from organic waste and sustainable chemistry. The current research investigates policy options in this respect. The interactions within these innovative industrial systems are becoming almost exclusively governed by natural processes. These processes being subjected to nature’s principles, one can see these new installations as a particular extension of the surrounding ecosystem itself, rather than an artificial industrial economic system. This allows the methodology to start from an energy and material balance analysis of the entire ecosystem, including the industrial process. Several authors assess the energy and material efficiency of ecosystems and living organisms in terms of exergy. (Jorgensen and Svirezhev, 2004) Similar methodologies asses the efficiency of industrial processes in terms of exergy or exergy cost. (Szargut, 2005; Valero et al., 1986). Various applications have further developed the method by integrating all major environmental effects in the equation and linking industrial life cycle analysis with the input from ecosystems. (Dewulf et al., 2007). Based on these developments, we propose a methodology to assess the exergy cost of the industrial output starting from the ecosystem it is related to. This is compared to the economic cost and value of the same industrial outputs. Through a life cycle perspective, the methodology compares both natural value and economic value-creation of an innovative industrial process. Built on value assessment and total factor productivity analysis, we delimit the steps to assess these values on an equal basis. The methodology is applied to a case study. The results show the potentials and limitations of such a methodology. For instance, the choice of the ecosystem interacting with the process is of high importance. But also the contribution of ecosystem services requires more research.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1942/14715
Category: C2
Type: Conference Material
Appears in Collections: Research publications

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