Industrial ecology involves a systems view of material and energy flows in industry, where industry is thought of very broadly, and between industry and the environment. Closed loop material systems can lighten environmental burdens posed by society, and improve materials sustainability. Fundamental physical and chemical principles, and some experience, suggest that closing material circulation loops is likely to be both environmentally and economically beneficial.
The metal manufacturing system contains complex metal recycling networks involving a variety of actors. Most metal produced as manufacturing ‘waste’ is recycled, but some wastes containing high concentrations of metals go to landfills for reasons of scale, and the idiosyncrasies of regulation. The greatest loss of manufactured metal appears to be through the disposal of consumer products to landfills.