Mutual benefits of industrial symbiosis

Peter Laybourn highlights what’s new in industrial symbiosis from around the world


This year is proving to be pivotal for industrial symbiosis. It has been 10 years since the National Industrial Symbiosis Programme (NISP) officially launched in the UK, and globally the appetite for replicating its approach continues to gather pace.

Experts at consultancy International Synergies have taken the NISP model to create a blueprint for replication around the world, regardless of economy or culture. Although other examples of industrial symbiosis exist, the model is proving to be the most effective for its applicability at scale and for generating rapid results. It brings together producers and users of waste resources with innovators and entrepreneurs to deliver innovative solutions to business problems and accompanying environmental benefits.

A systems approach

Part of the NISP’s innovation is that it applies a systems approach, holistically addressing not just material “waste” but also energy, water, logistics, capacity and expertise – indeed, any underused assets. The programme’s engagement model also creates opportunities for deploying additional circular economy tools, such as ecodesign and cleaner production.

Between 2005 and 2013, the NISP was actively engaged with more than 15,000 companies in the UK. Opportunities identified and facilitated by the programme in England generated £1 billion in sales and achieved cost reductions of £1.1 billion for ...

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