Industrial symbiosis

Example of Industrial symbiosis: waste steam from a waste incinerator (right) is piped to an ethanol plant (left) where it is used as an input to their production process

Industrial Symbiosis[1] a subset of industrial ecology. It describes how a network of diverse organizations can foster eco-innovation and long-term culture change, create and share mutually profitable transactions - and improve business and technical processes.

Although geographic proximity is often associated with industrial symbiosis, it is neither necessary nor sufficient—nor is a singular focus on physical resource exchange. In practice, using industrial symbiosis as an approach to commercial operations – using, recovering and redirecting resources for reuse – results in resources remaining in productive use in the economy for longer. This in turn creates business opportunities, reduces demands on the earth’s resources, and provides a stepping-stone towards creating a circular economy. The industrial symbiosis model devised and managed by International Synergies Limited is a facilitated model operating at the national scale in the United Kingdom (NISP - National Industrial Symbiosis Programme), and at other scales around the world. International Synergies Limited has developed global expertise in IS, instigating programmes in Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark, Finland, Hungary, Italy, Mexico, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, South Africa and Turkey, as well as the UK.[2] Industrial symbiosis is a subset of industrial ecology, with a particular focus on material and energy exchange. Industrial ecology is a relatively new field that is based on a natural paradigm, claiming that an industrial ecosystem may behave in a similar way to the natural ecosystem wherein everything gets recycled.


Eco-industrial development is one of the ways in which industrial ecology contributes to the integration of economic growth and environmental protection. Some of the examples of eco-industrial development are:

"This classification omits any industrial sector-wide approaches and appreciates the diversity of the industrial system which is a key feature of industrial symbiosis. It is aimed to include initiatives that focus on achieving utility sharing and symbiosis among diverse sectors of industry".[4][5] It is the diversity and the openness of industrial symbiosis that makes it a unique approach to eco-industrial development.

Industrial symbiosis engages traditionally separate industries in a collective approach to competitive advantage involving physical exchange of materials, energy, water, and/or by-products. The keys to industrial symbiosis are collaboration and the synergistic possibilities offered by geographic proximity".[6] The sharing of information is even more critical with the emergence of virtual globes such as Google Earth. These tools can greatly simplify the geographical analysis involved in determining potential IS opportunities.[7]

Industrial symbiosis systems collectively optimize material and energy use at efficiencies beyond those achievable by any individual process alone. IS systems such as the web of materials and energy exchanges among companies in Kalundborg, Denmark have spontaneously evolved from a series of micro innovations over a long time scale;[8] however, the engineered design and implementation of such systems from a macro planner’s perspective, on a relatively short time scale, proves challenging. Nevertheless, there are examples of industrial symbiosis being approached as national / regional initiatives with some significant success particularly in Europe.[9]

Often, access to information on available by-products is non-existent. These by-products are considered waste and typically not traded or listed on any type of exchange.


Recent work reviewed government policies necessary to construct a multi-gigaWatt photovoltaic factory and complementary policies to protect existing solar companies are outlined and the technical requirements for a symbiotic industrial system are explored to increase the manufacturing efficiency while improving the environmental impact of solar photovoltaic cells. The results of the analysis show that an eight-factory industrial symbiotic system can be viewed as a medium-term investment by any government, which will not only obtain direct financial return, but also an improved global environment.[10] This is because synergies have been identified for co-locating glass manufacturing and photovoltaic manufacturing.[11] The waste heat from glass manufacturing can be used in industrial-sized greenhouses for food production.[12] Even within the PV plant itself a secondary chemical recycling plant can reduce environmental impact while improving economic performance for the group of manufacturing facilities.[13]

In DCM Shriram consolidated limited (Kota unit) produces Caustic Soda, calcium Carbide, Cement and PVC Resins.Chlorine and Hydrogen are obtained as by-products from caustic soda production, while Calcium carbide produced is partly sold and partly is treated with water to form Slurry(Aqueous solution of Calcium Hydroxide) and Ethylene. The chlorine and ethylene produced are utilised to form PVC compounds, while the slurry is consumed for Cement production by wet process. Hydrochloric Acid is prepared by direct synthesis where The pure chlorine gas can be combined with hydrogen to produce hydrogen chloride in the presence of UV light.[14]

See also


  1. Lombardi, D. R. and Laybourn, P. (2012), Redefining Industrial Symbiosis. Journal of Industrial Ecology, 16: 28–37. doi: 10.1111/j.1530-9290.2011.00444.x
  2. AM Hein, M Jankovic, R Farel, B Yannou 2015. A Conceptual Framework For Eco-Industrial Parks. Proceedings of the ASME 2015 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences & Computers and Information in Engineering Conference IDETC/CIE 2015
  3. Agarwal A. & Strachan P. 2006. Literature review on eco-industrial development initiatives around the world and the methods employed to evaluate their performance / effectiveness, Consultancy Report prepared for Databuild Ltd. and National Industrial Symbiosis Programme, 7 May 2006, Available from
  4. Mr. Abhishek Agarwal and Dr. Peter Strachan (2006). "Literature review on eco-industrial development initiatives around the world and the methods employed to evaluate their performance / effectiveness" (PDF). The Robert Gordon University. Archived from the original (PDF) on 14 April 2013. Retrieved 24 April 2014.
  5. Agarwal A. & Strachan P. 2006. Literature review on eco-industrial development initiatives around the world and the methods employed to evaluate their performance / effectiveness, Consultancy Report prepared for Databuild Ltd. and National Industrial Symbiosis Programme, 7 May 2006, Available from
  6. Chertow, M. R. 2000. Industrial Symbiosis: Literature and Taxonomy, Annual Review of Energy and the Environment, 25: 313-337.
  7. W. Doyle and J. M. Pearce, "Utilization of Virtual Globes for Open Source Industrial Symbiosis", Open Environmental Sciences, 3, 88-96.
  8. Ehrenfeld, J. and Gertler, N. 1997. Industrial Ecology in Practice: The Evolution of Interdependence at Kalundborg, Journal of Industrial Ecology 1(1): 67.
  9. Costa I., Massard G. and Agarwal A. 2010. Waste management policies for industrial symbiosis development: case studies in European countries, Journal of Cleaner Production 18: 815-822.
  10. Pearce, J.M. 2008. "Industrial Symbiosis for Very Large Scale Photovoltaic Manufacturing", Renewable Energy 33, pp. 1101–1108.
  11. A. H. Nosrat, J. Jeswiet, and J. M. Pearce, "Cleaner Production via Industrial Symbiosis in Glass and Large-Scale Solar Photovoltaic Manufacturing", Science and Technology for Humanity (TIC-STH), 2009 IEEE Toronto International Conference, pp.967-970, 26-27 Sept. 2009. DOI
  12. Rob Andrews and Joshua Pearce, "Environmental and Economic Assessment of a Greenhouse Waste Heat Exchange", Journal of Cleaner Production 19, pp. 1446-1454 (2011). DOI.
  13. M.A. Kreiger, D.R. Shonnard, J.M. Pearce, "Life Cycle Analysis of Silane Recycling in Amorphous Silicon-Based Solar Photovoltaic Manufacturing"Resources, Conservation & Recycling, 70, pp.44-49 (2013).DOI
  14. DSCL Annual Report , 2011-12 "" Annual Report of DSCL, 2011-12 ,pp.22-23.

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