PerspectiveMaterials Science

Materials Ecology: An Industrial Perspective

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Science  12 Nov 2010:
Vol. 330, Issue 6006, pp. 919-920
DOI: 10.1126/science.1197478

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There are many reasons for the current drive for more sustainable industrial processes, including a desire for enhanced societal value, lower-energy demand, less waste, and more effective products. Much of this drive comes from a new generation of industry CEOs who are committed to sustainability (1). Sustainability naturally includes a view on what to do with products at the end of their lives, and the best modern products are designed to make recycling easier. However, there is much that is not deemed to be worth recycling and goes into landfill (2). Population increase and changes in consumption patterns combined with the inefficient use of materials push us toward a crisis point. To achieve stable long-term growth, something will have to change—and perhaps a new approach based on the materials themselves can help.