ecology of the business: Life cycle data relevant for products and processes were determined; a better understanding of what industrial ecology will mean for aluminum in three sectors—the auto market, the building market, and the can market —was developed; and the company published Aluminum and Ecology, a detailed brochure, and put industrial ecology on the agenda in its internal training programs.
These efforts focused on life cycle considerations, strategic market needs, and training or information needs. They revealed the following:
Industrial ecology provides a good basis for communicating with major customers. Smaller customers tend not to identify the challenge or appreciate the idea of industrial ecology as much as larger companies, such as car makers that operate in more clearly identified markets. Smaller companies, such as builders in loosely defined markets, tend to ask what is in it for them and do not see the broader market forces influencing their future.
Detailed business-related environmental data need to be presented in a detailed usable, easily understandable way.
A detailed and open record related to ecology and environment results in positive media coverage and public response.
To be operational in the business context, the application of industrial ecology has to be simplified.
Environmental concerns are additional factors to consider in technological innovation. The link between the end use of aluminum in the final product (the use of the product by the consumer and its final disposal and recycle) places new and strong demands on the design of products and on cooperation among the different participants in the life cycle of the material.
The integration of environmental considerations within a company begins with small specific steps.
Hydro Aluminum will continue its two-pronged approach of providing information and communicating with the market while engaging in more specific development and design activities.
Managing a firm from an industrial ecology perspective encompasses recycling, energy consumption, logistics and use of packaging material, and EHS concerns. These factors cover most of the challenges of developing and judging appropriate processes and strategies for optimizing the use of aluminum in light of the technological, economic, and ecological constrains. These factors are also of concern to society at large, and they pose technical and scientific challenges