Industrial Ecology

We at Bowman & Associates have a keen interest in the developing field of Industrial Ecology. Industrial Ecology is the study of material and energy flows through industrial systems that seeks to understand the behavior of the integrated processes between humans and nature.

We will seek to quantify the material flows and document the industrial processes that make your business function and what process can be improved upon to make your company more environmentally friendly. We are also concerned about any problems you may have with waste disposal as this is a vital part of the total process within industrial ecology. We will combine aspects of engineering, technology, economics, sociology, toxicology and natural sciences to develop sustainable initiatives for your company to strive for and achieve.

The idea of Industrial Ecology comes from the analogy of using natural systems as an aid in understanding how to design sustainable industrial systems. At Bowman & Associates, we constantly remind our clients that this idea is vital in achieving a sustainable business.

Material Flow Analysis

When incorporating the aspects of Industrial Ecology into your project, it is essential that a Material Flow Analysis (MFA) is conducted in order to analyse the flows of materials within your organisation’s system. MFA is an important tool of Industrial Ecology, and will be used by Bowman & Associates to produce a better understanding of the flow of materials through your organisation’s activities and connected ecosystems, calculate specific indicators and develop strategies for improving the material flow systems. The MFA becomes the basis for a material flow management program developed by Bowman & Associates.

Material Flow Analysis is conducted in three different ways which include on a national or regional level, on a corporate level and in the life cycle of a product. Bowman & Associates will endeavour to apply any or all three of these types of MFA to achieve your desired outcome.

At the national or regional level, we will examine the material exchanges between the organisation’s economic status and the natural environment. This will show indicators that are used to calculate and assess the level of resource intensity of the organisation’s system.

At a corporate level, the goal of MFA within a company is to optimise the production processes in such a way that materials and energy are used in the most efficient manner (e.g. by recycling and reduction of waste). Bowman & Associates can help you develop and implement a material flow analysis that can provide results to improve your operations costs and environmental performance.

If the full life cycle assessment is undertaken, then the MFA is what is termed the inventory step of life cycle assessment.

Life Cycle Assessment

A Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is a technique to assess each and every impact associated with all the stages of a process from raw materials through materials processing, manufacture, distribution, use, repair and maintenance, and disposal or recycling (i.e cradle to grave). We at Bowman & Associates will use the basic principles of LCA to help avoid the potential for a narrow outlook on environmental, social and economic concerns. We will achieve this by:

  • Compiling an inventory of relevant energy and material inputs and environmental releases,
  • Evaluating the potential impacts associated with identified inputs and releases,
  • Interpreting the results to help you make a more informed decision.

Our goal is to compare the full range of environmental and social damages assignable to products and services, to be able to choose the least troublesome one for you and your company.

Bowman & Associates use this method to account for the effects of technologies responsible for goods and services. But we cannot account for goods and services as it is due to the fact that what people do with their money is unrecorded. As a consequence, we can succeed in accurately measuring the impacts of the technology used for delivering products in LCA, but not the whole impact of making the economic choice of using it.