In order to better define the term “ecotechnology”, the authors conducted a systematic review, and used thematic synthesis to generate a conceptual framework for definitions of the term ‘ecotechnology’, based on themes that emerge across all explicit definitions. The conceptual model is tested using examples of ecotechnology identified from the articles relating to carbon and nutrients.

The authors identified 1221 articles referring to the term “ecotechnology” across 9 bibliographic databases, of which 657 were unique articles. Of the 77 carbon and nutrients articles providing definitions, almost half used the term ‘ecotechnology’ as a buzzword. Some 38 themes were identified across the 49 explicit definitions and these were clustered into 9 groups: combining processes/integrating nature and society; good for society; good for nature; profitability/efficiency; making nature work for society; making society work for nature; improving processes/learning from the environment; components, equipment, machinery (hard technology); and, processes and behaviours (soft technology).

The conceptual framework for the term “ecotechnology” can serve as a useful concept for unifying and gathering efforts around a common vision.