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GEN 6 

Ecological Waste: Rethinking the Nature of Waste

Janis Birkeland
Professor of Architecture, Queensland University of Technology

The design and construction fields have a central role to play in moving toward a 'zero waste' economy. Total resource consumption, both upstream and downstream from development, could be greatly reduced through ecological design. This will however require a paradigm shift to a more whole systems understanding of waste – as distinguished from what we could term ‘marginal analysis’.  This paper introduces the idea of ‘ecological waste’, which accounts for the loss of ecosystems in assessing development. Ecological Waste analysis would consider the time and cost of replacing a living forest ecosystem and not just the biomass or ‘resource’. This is intended to move the goal post toward the aim of eliminating ‘designed waste’, or the duplication, disposability, planned obsolescence and wasteful end purposes to which a large portion of resources are sometimes directed through design. For the purposes of this paper, sustainability is understood in its strongest sense: as expanding future options. It is recommended that note Gen 4: Positive Development is read as a preface to this paper.

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designed waste, eco-innovation, ecological waste, eco-retrofitting, embodied waste, industrial ecology, waste

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