1.2.1 Central ideas

Integrated Product Policy

This book makes three innovative and to some extent controversial suggestions, explained in more detail below.

  1. Ecological economics and industrial ecology are closely related and, together, constitute a consistent body of knowledge.
  2. The IPP lacks a well-established theoretical background.
  3. The theoretical background for the IPP should be sought in ecological eco­nomics and industrial ecology, both of which deal with the interactions between the economic and natural systems.

For the last nine years, I have focused my research interests on the economic aspects of environmental protection, thus encompassing ecological economics and industrial ecology. While following the literature related to these areas, I have been surprised about how segregated they are, even though they deal with similar issues.

I focused my attention on business activities related to environmental protec­tion and policy initiatives aimed at shaping those activities. Within this field, product-oriented environmental policies have interested me most, as a highly innovative and integrated approach towards shaping economy-environment interactions, involving all relevant stakeholders. The IPP provides an example of such a policy. However, although it can playa very important role (because of its scope and ambitious objectives), it seems to have developed rather sponta­neously, lacking sufficient theoretical background. Instead, it appears to be based on straightforward observation of the impacts that products have on the environment and on the previous experience of separate countries with their product-oriented environmental policies.

Ecological economics and industrial ecology have been selected as a poten­tial theoretical background for the IPP because they seem to be the closest to the general idea of this policy, especially as far as adopting the life-cycle perspect­ive of the product’s impact on the environment is concerned. Thus, it may turn out that the IPP could be further improved by consideration of the implications of these two areas.