Industrial symbiosis refers to mutually beneficial connections among traditionally unconnected organizations. The concept of industrial symbiosis is inspired by biology, where symbiosis is often defined as a relationship between individuals of different species where both individuals benefit. The symbiotic exchanges among different entities yield a collective benefit greater than the sum of individual benefits alone. In industry, these connections are based on the exchange, transaction or sharing of resources such as material, energy and water. Through the process of industrial symbiosis, the waste of one company can become the raw material of another.

Industrial symbiosis has a lot of potential. Its main contribution to businesses’ activities is the reduction of industrial material and energy use, which in turn can increase businesses’ economic performance, improve the ecological footprint of industrial processes and foster eco-innovation as well as the creation of added value for the actors involved.

This has led to industrial symbiosis being increasingly acknowledged as a strategic tool for the realisation of industrial ecology and the implementation of a circular economy. The European Commission has stated its intent to propose elements to facilitate industrial symbiosis and it will engage with Member States to help ensure a common understanding of the rules of by-products. The Commission is also proposing to clarify rules on by-products to facilitate industrial symbiosis and to help create a level-playing field across the EU.

In this edition of EREK Quarterly, read our interview with Paula Eskola: senior expert at Motiva in resource and material efficiency of businesses and coordinator of Business Finland’s Cleantech, Bio- and Circular Economy programme (page 2-3), practical examples from companies (page 4), information on public-funded support programmes (page 5) and a lot of other relevant tips and information.

Read the EREK Quarterly #4!

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