After weeks of hiding behind the clouds, the sun has decided to show up. Just as we are about to leave for Portugal. This trip will give me a good chance to catch up with my colleagues from Europe, Asia and elsewhere in the world. Their concerns about the state of the world tend to be much the same as what I hear in the US, but their responses tend to be different. Industrial ecology, the subject of the conference I will be attending, has had more influence in the rest of the world. The concept of extended producer responsibility, a form of the polluter pays principle, is rooted in European Union policy and practice. Closing material loops is not left to volunteers, and has become a central feature of European Union environmental policy. Starting with packaging a few years ago, the doctrine covers automobiles, electronic goods and will include more categories in the future.
I will be hearing reports at the meeting from European workgroups that have been focused on finding policies that will close the gap between sustainable production and sustainable consumption. Their whole effort towards greening seems, from my place in the US, to be more serious. I should be able to get a more accurate picture through direct contact. I plan to write the new few blog posts to reflect how sustainability is being addressed from a non-US perspective. The theme of our conference is on transitions toward sustainability.

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