In several centuries of industrial development and the technological revolution, laws and legal practice have regulated the relationship of industry and environment. The laws controlling mining, manufacture, waste, and recycle of lead may be typical of society’s control of material cycles. The evolution of public attitudes and resulting laws may be analogous to developments observed when an ecological system develops using a new area. Exploitive, competitive uses of initially concentrated resources, and accumulating wastes, are followed by increased efficiency, reuse, and recycling to the environment. Largely responding to market values, the laws on materials such as lead have not yet recognized the contributions of materials carrying the prior work of nature.