Industrial symbiosis promotes circular economy

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Industrial symbiosis is the process by which waste or by-products of one industry or industrial process become the raw material for another. Applying this scenario allows materials to be used more sustainably and helps create a circular economy. The transition to such an economy is the objective of the European Commission’s Circular Economy Action Plan, as it will lead to Europe’s economic competitiveness, sustainability, efficiency and resource security. It also helps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Industrial symbiosis creates an interconnected network that seeks to mimic the functioning of ecological systems, in which energy and the cycle of materials continue without producing waste products. This process serves to reduce the environmental footprint of the industries involved. Raw materials are required to a lesser extent and the landfilling of waste is reduced. Also, materials that would otherwise be discarded have value and thus remain economically valuable for longer than in traditional industrial systems (European green capital award, 2018).

Some examples of large-scale industrial symbiosis are:

  • The use of surplus thermal energy by one greenhouse heating industry to produce food of another.

A good example of industrial symbiosis in Barcelona:

  • Recovering wood shavings/ scrapers from car tires for use in building materials

A Funky Garden Office and Shed Made from Recycled Car Tires! Read more:

  • The use of sludge from aquaculture as an agricultural fertiliser

For example, AquaponieBxl is introducing aquaponics across Brussels by building urban farms where vegetables grow on water using fish waste as fertiliser. Read more here:

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