My research interests are driven in significant part by my interest in exploring the intellectual productivity and practical value of tools and frameworks emerging from industrial ecology. This emerging field examines the environmental consequences of production and consumption by studying of the flows of materials and energy in industrial and consumer activities, of the effects of these flows on the environment, and of the influences of economic, political, regulatory, and social factors on the flow, use, and transformation of resources. The objective of industrial ecology is to understand better how we can integrate environmental concerns into our economic activity. My research efforts inform and are informed by my work in setting the intellectual direction of the Journal of Industrial Ecology through my role as editor-in-chief of that publication.
My primary area of research focuses on the emergence, rationales for, and evaluation of EPR (more commonly known as, but not limited to, product take-back). EPR typically takes the form of requirements for producers to “take-back” their products for recycling and waste management. It is a prominent element of emerging efforts to take a product-centered/life cycle-based approach to environmental policy (“integrated product policy” or IPP), a central theme in industrial ecology. I am especially interested in the efficacy of EPR in achieving policy goals and the extent to which EPR has lead to changes in product design. My interests in EPR have led me to work with the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and regular columns in the Journal of Industrial Ecology.