Industrial ecology is a label under which many linkages between production and consumption processes are grouped. This article is based on a social science approach, ranging from organisational learning to the analysis of industrial districts, in reflection to the techno-economic approach of the developments in the industrial ecology projects 'INES 1994-1997 and INES Mainport 1999-2002' in the Rotterdam harbour and industry complex. In relation to the growing attention for regional types of industrial ecology, the article aims to provide a useful social science analytical framework for investigating regional industrial ecology, and to develop a prescriptive approach that can stimulate such industrial ecology. Regional industrial ecological systems meet with static and dynamic issues as a result of specific system boundaries of their decision-making levels. The analytical framework provides insight into these issues through a focus on three phases of (regional) industrial ecology, the production of collective goods, and governance mechanisms. We find that the INES Mainport project is still in the first phase of industrial ecology. To go beyond this phase, the Rotterdam harbour and industry region faces the limits of system boundaries of the decision-making levels within the regional management.

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Journal of Cleaner Production
Department of Sociology

Baas, L.W, & Boons, F.A.A. (2004). An industrial ecology project in practice: Exploring the boundaries of decision-making levels in regional industrial systems. Journal of Cleaner Production, 12(8-10), 1073–1085. doi:10.1016/j.jclepro.2004.02.005