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Human needs lead the way of production and the production is the key to human life. Every single man is connected to the production system. Agricultural production (A.P) and industrial production (I.P) are two important parts in the living system (for human). Without either of them the current social structure will collapse. Agricultural production provides the basic need for life forms, the food, and industrial production provides the supplies for daily use. The demand (or need) acts as the basic motivation which drives the production. Over production and wastes due to over done processes are problems, which are not inevitable, cause unwanted consequences.
Every process in the production costs. Time is the highest cost of all, because every process takes time.
– A single man will eat more then 7000 animals during the life time
– Every year the average American takes about 2,175 pounds of food.
– The average person consumes 35 tons of food (drink included) during the entire life.
Human creates a self-support food supply system to fight against the basic need of natural instinct, hunger. Though the food supply is well supported by new technologies (automations), it is still vulnerable. Everything related to the food industry counts, for instance, to cultivate crops, machines and man power are taken into account. Energy (fuel and electricity) consumption, maintenance requirement and time-costs during the food production process cannot be ignored. To produce 1 kg of meat requires about 5,000 to 20,000 litres of water while to produce 1 kg of wheat requires between 500 and 4,000 litres of water (Statement from UK’s Institution of Mechanical Engineers, IMS). Water consumption mentioned above is the reference measurement for calculating the cost of production.
Material is another key element, comes from the natural resources. Every single stuff which available or affordable comes from the nature. The raw stuffs take time, energy and human labour to become the useful material. Take iron production for instance. To create a kilogram of iron requires1.8 kilogram of ore, 0.9 kg of coke (coke is charcoal made from coal) and 0.45 kg of limestone (CaCO3).
Efficient way of production fulfils the daily need, and high efficient production needs advance tool, the machine (automation). Automation replaces the human labour, free man power from repetitive works and makes the civilisation go further. Despite the advantage that machine brings, such as it reduces need of man power, and makes the repetitive producing work efficiently, like human, it needs energy. Take the steel production for instance, to produce a kilogram of iron (from iron ore) needs about 20-25MJ (1 mega joule, MJ = 277.77 watt-hour, Wh), and to produce 1 kg of steel requires 20-50MJ (5,550 to 13,900 watt-hours).
Time, food (for man power), material and energy are the costs of the production. Every single cost during the production counts, waste or excessive production will cost more and causes unwanted consequences.
The balance between supply and human needs is the main topic of production. Chaos happens when this balance is damaged. Methods or substitutions are used to solve the problems such as depletion of natural resources. Pesticides are created to control the damage caused by pests, they save time and labour to take care of crops and make the food supply chain healthy. Plastics (or synthetics) are used as a substitute material for mass production, they cheap and easily to manufacture. New Alloy is used to make products more lighter and more durable, and most important, this new alloy can reduce the cost of processing and it’s cheap to manufacture (for mass production).
Substitutions are temporarily the best solutions to reduce the usage of valuable resources or to gain advance profit.
Company usually sells more products to gain profit. However, the daily usage ration of the products is low. The profit is the very thing that every company (or manufacturer) hunts for. However, every product they made has unknown side effect. It is not obvious at present, but it will become clear in next few years. DDT pesticide, GM crops for instance, and the toxic stuff made during the production will also cause disasters. It is even worse when toxic stuff gathers and cause accumulation effect.
Overproduction and Oversupply cause unwanted wastes and cost extra production time and material. The byproduct, which are oversupplied, during the production also cost a lot to deal with. And the final products, which cannot make profit, have to be destroyed (or to be returned to the manufacturer) to reduce the costs (storage costs even more). Unfortunately, overproduction or oversupply is always there to fit the potential market, the excessive demand.
Reuse/Recycle and re-think the way of re-gaining profit
“Use but not own” is currently a good solution. Use or rent second-hand car or temporarily rent the owned car during leisure time to reduce co2 emission. Use clean power such as tidal power plant (hydraulic power plant) and wind turbine power plant to reduce air pollution and co2 emission. Factories use recyclable material, as a new method, to reduce costs. For instance, to produce a kilogram of steel costs about 20 to 50MJ, while to produce 1 kg of steel from recycled steel needs 6 to15 MJ. Obviously, in this way, less energy and material will be used (as previously mentioned, no extra material will be used to produce steel).
“The cradle to cradle approach is to see waste as food, as a nutrient for what is to come.” Re-think the proper way or methods to dispose available products is the key to every industry. Though finding a suitable method to recycle wastes or redundant product cost a lot, it is worthy. Instead of dumping those stuffs and make them pollutions (this brutal way cause serious problems, the worst consequence is life-threatening issue), recycle and reuse these stuffs will not only reduce the costs but also provide extra benefit (trash burning power plant).
Every product has its own service life, when the service of the product has been delivered and service life comes to an end, instead of simply piling or dumping, dispose the stuff in a proper way, so that the stuff can become a component of a new product. Each Eco-Approach slows down the rate of depleting the resources and make the symbiosis between human and nature better.
Pimentel, David, Giampietro, Mario (1994). Food, Land, Population and the U.S. Economy.
Page 18. In the bubble. John Thackara, The Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press, 2005
Page 5. Cradle to Cradle, William McDonough and Michael Braggart. Published by Vintage 2009