Top-down Methodology to Identify Opportunities for Industrial Symbiosis Partnerships

Abstract: Industries in Europe are responsible for generating approximately 190 Mtons of waste; a figure which is expected to rise, as a significant increase in the consumption of raw materials is predicted to occur in the near future. This may lead to escalating environmental problems, including resource depletion, soil degradation, and climate change. To curtail these problems, countries, regions, and industrial systems need to find ways to promote and foster Circular Economy strategies. The promotion and implementation of Industrial Symbiosis (IS) partnerships is one of the strategies for implementation of Circular Economy concepts. IS has been recognized by the European Union as a tool that can be used to promote sustainable growth and resource efficiency, by enabling companies to use wastes, energy, or water generated by other companies as raw materials in their industrial processes. In reality, however companies face numerous challenges when trying to find opportunities to engage in IS partnerships. One way to expand the opportunities for Industrial Symbiosis is by broadening its scope from eco-industrial parks to entire regions, by exploring the potential for using wastes already available in the region as raw materials. This may also reduce dependence on resource extraction and materials imported from other countries. Bottom-up approaches are commonly used to identify opportunities for IS partnerships, and include tools like surveys and workshops. However, these approaches can be difficult to implement, primarily because of time and cost constraints. Fortunately, as it is now possible to collect large datasets, top-down approaches can be used to develop tools that facilitate identification of IS opportunities. The aim of this thesis is to develop a top-down methodology for mapping IS opportunities and identifying potential stakeholders. Types of materials that can be reused and recycled are identified, as well as companies that may collaborate by sharing resources. The method can be applied at different spatial scales, from industrial parks to municipalities, regions, or countries. It employs routinely reported statistical data for industries, which enables simple data acquisition and ensures that any changes in the production processes are captured. It contains information on approximately 100 industries, 1,250 products, and 800 waste types. The results show that currently available datasets can be used to identify IS opportunities, and that input materials and wastes generated by industries can be predicted. After matching inputs to wastes, a tool based on two databases was developed. This tool can be used to identify opportunities for IS partnerships within any region in Europe. The tool was tested in the Västra Götaland Region of Sweden, in three case studies: one for wood wastes, one for biogas, and another for carbon capture and utilization. The results can be used by regional development authorities or other institutions to support the establishment of IS partnerships.