What is an
industrial symbiosis?


Nothing is lost, nothing is created, everything is transformed?

Industrial ecology is a multidisciplinary approach to sustainability, a set of tools such as ecodesign, clean technology and life cycle analysis aimed at optimising the use of natural resources. Modelling itself after natural ecosystems where material and energy flows cycle continuously, industrial ecology applies this principle to supply chains and waste management. Wood dust, mining tailings, plastic by-products etc. The waste of one can often serve to substitute the raw materials of another.

Sustainability in networks

An industrial symbiosis consists of a network of businesses and communities linked through the exchange of materials (e.g. by-products), water or energy. These exchanges form synergies. The most well-known case is the Kalundborg symbiosis in Denmark.

By extending the life cycle of resources according to the hierarchy of the 4Rs (reduction, reuse, recycling/composting and recovery), industrial symbioses promote clean technology and clean production, which are methods that are more efficient and respectful of the environment. By the links it creates between the industrial, social and economic fabric of a region, this circular economy is also a concrete tool of sustainability.

Significant benefits for your business

Economic Benefits

  • Fewer sources of waste;
  • Improved production processes;
  • Reduced raw material costs;
  • Reduced disposal costs;
  • Increased revenue through the sale of by-products;
  • Optimised waste management;
  • Increased potential for innovation;
  • Development of ecoproduits from recycled material;
  • Initiation or improvement of waste/industrial waste channels;
  • Creation of new markets;
  • Increased business opportunities.

Environmental Benefits

  • Reduced exploitation of natural resources/preservation of natural resources ;
  • Decreased greenhouse gas emissions;
  • Reduced environmental impacts linked to waste disposal;
  • Lowered risk of water, air and soil contamination;
  • Improved environmental risk management and regulatory compliance.

Social Benefits

  • Participation and collaboration between various stakeholders in the symbiosis;
  • Development of new partnerships (products, services, businesses etc.);
  • Creation and retention of local jobs;
  • Raised awareness of industrial ecology and sustainability by management and employees;
  • Improved corporate image.