The field is focused on the concept that an industrial system should be viewed not in isolation from its surrounding systems, but in concert with them. It is a systems view in which one seeks to optimize the total materials cycle from virgin material, to finished material, to component, to product, to obsolete product, and to ultimate disposal. Factors to be optimized include resources, energy, and capital.
Among the programs and goals of the center are the following:
The CIE houses the Journal of Industrial Ecology and major research projects on substance flows analysis and on industrial symbiosis. The CIE acts as the temporary international secretariat for the International Society for Industrial Ecology.
- Promotion of research in industrial ecology
- Hosting of visiting national and international scholars in industrial ecology
- Doctoral and postdoctoral study programs in industrial ecology