Sustainability leaders often have to interact with a wide range of stakeholders with varied interests and incentives. They need to figure out the best way to engage, communicate, prioritize, and implement—in other words, to persuade. According to a panel of sustainability executives, that can mean sidestepping the language and baggage of sustainability entirely.
The field of industrial ecology seeks to provide definite answers to such questions as whether it's better to read a book in paper or electronic form or whether garbage dumps might become more efficient sources of some metals than mines. By tracking energy and material flows and producing product life-cycle assessments, researchers in the field attempt to take a systems perspective on environmental concerns.