An industrial network outside Norrköping can reduce environmental impacts by 170,000 tonnes carbon dioxide, 750 tonnes phosphate and 190 tonnes sulphur dioxide by adopting a so-called industrial symbiosis approach.
– Large benefits are evident. In addition to benefiting the environment, joint efforts of this kind deliver competitive advantages – leveraging lower costs, enhanced workforce collaboration and innovation, says Michael Martin, researcher at IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute.
Together with colleague Steve Harris and industry partners in Norrköping and Sotenäs he has evaluated the impact of industrial symbiosis networks– when companies share resources, energy and equipment with each other – in two new studies. Two networks participated in the study, one outside Norrköping and the other in Sotenäs.
The Sotenäs Symbios Center network links together activities such as land-based salmon farming, fish feed and biogas production. In addition to reducing carbon dioxide emissions and eutrophication, the network has made it possible to cut costs and create jobs.
– Industrial symbiosis regards individual companies, not as separate islands but as integral parts of a larger whole. This approach also leverages environmental and social benefits for the region and workforce, says Steve Harris, researcher at IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute.
In the Norrköping network, garden products supplier Econova collaborates with the forest industry group Holmen, Norrköping municipality and district heating plant Tekniska Verken. Residual waste, such as bark and fibre from Holmen, is used in Econova’s soil and ground installation materials. Ash from combustion at Tekniska verken is given a new lease on life in Econova’s products where it replaces concrete and asphalt. In addition, the network utilizes the heat generated by these exchanges.
– It is important to showcase initiatives like these to motivate other industry actors to join forces and steer Sweden towards a more circular economy, says Michael Martin.
The studies were funded via the Re:Source Strategic Innovation Research Program.