To cut costs and become more efficient, manufacturers are gradually reducing the amount of resources needed to produce each good. The carbon intensity of the manufacturing industry has therefore been decreasing steadily : it takes less and less CO2 (and therefore energy) to produce 1 GDP point.
This logic is applied in the Kalundborg industrial park in Denmark which has been a symbol of industrial ecology since the 1970s. Several factories have joined forces to create an industrial ecosystem within which they exchange water, energy and even some waste that is then turned into resources by other companies. Once the sulphur residue from coal combustion has been filtered, it can even be used to make gypsum and drywall.
The shift towards more sustainable production is also taking place through ecodesign, according to Cradle to Cradle approach. It means designing products in such a way that they produce almost no waste. Putting this waste to good use, a practice that is common in traditional societies but has long been overlooked by industrial ones, is part of this logic.
But better production is useless if consumption increases and thereby cancels out any improvements. The manufacturing industry is always looking for new markets and it builds obsolescence into products so that they have to be renewed. Consumers can choose not to play along by changing their habits: no more impulse buys or automatic replacements, fixing rather than replacing, choosing sustainable and eco-friendly products etc.
To consume less, one can also barter, swap, borrow…and choose the interesting option of not owning an object but meeting a need through a service. It is already working with the bicycle and car sharing systems that have been set up in several cities.