Industrial SymbiosisSymbiosis means co-existence between diverse organisms in which each
may benefit from the other. In this context, the term is applied about
the industrial co-operation taking place in Kalundborg between a num-
ber of companies and Kalundborg Municipality, all of which exploit each
others residual or by-products mutually.
The Symbiosis co-operation has developed spontaneously over a num-
ber of decades and today comprises some 20 projects. The exchange of
residual products between the companies is laid out in the diagram.
The Symbiosis are still in development with new projects and initiatives
between the member companies and the society. New member is go-
ing to be signed in in 2009 - meaning new processes and new potential
symbiosis projects. The Symbiosis Institute are also supporting other
industrial districts in Denmark and internationally in their effort to initi-
ate symbiosis activities.
The overall goal of the Industrial Symbiosis in Kalundborg is to improve
the environmental standard through efficiency, further development and
information exchange of utilisation of bi-products in industry. Trough
these actions will enterprises minimise the utilisation of energy, water
and natural raw materials.
The Industrial Symbiosis of Kalundborg is built as a network co-opera-
tion between the seven companies and the Municipality of Kalundborg
The philosophy behind the Symbiosis is that the seven companies:
DONG Energy Asnæs Power Station, the plasterboard factory Gyproc
A/S, the pharmaceutical plant Novo Nordisk A/S, the enzyme producer
Novozymes A/S, the oil refinery Statoil A/S, RGS 90 A/S as well as the
waste company Kara/Noveren I/S and Kalundborg Municipality - exploit
each other’s residual or by-products on a commercial basis.
One company’s by-product becomes an important resource to one or
several of the other companies. The outcome is reduced consumption of
resources and a significant reduction in environmental strain.
The collaborating partners also benefit financially from the co-operation
because the individual agreement within the Symbiosis is based on com-
1800s - present
Many industries particularly those located in cities were well known for utilizing “wastes” of other indus-
tries as raw materials in their own production.
Industrial Symbiosis Timeline
The term ‘industrial symbiosis’ was first used in the economic geography literature by Renner to describe ‘organic relationships’
between dissimilar industries, including the ‘use of waste products from one as input to another’
Major facilities (Statoil refinery, Asnaes powerplant, Novo Pharmaceutical
plant) located in Kalundborg, Denmark starting up.
Industrial symbiosis activities begin in Kalundborg. (Gyproc sited to use flue gas from Statoil, Asnaes joins Statoil in piping water
from Lake Tisso, Novo begins shipping sludge to farmers).
The inter-firm linkages in Kalundborg were ‘uncovered’ through a high school science project, and the term ‘industrial sym-
biosis’ was coined to describe the system.
Large process industries including oil, nickel and alumina refining, cement and chemical manufacturing, and energy
co-generation plants located in the Kwinana Industrial Area in Western Australia.
The first industry association was formed in the Kwinana Area in Western Australia to collectively monitor regional emissions.
Its formation led to increased cooperation on a number of issues of common concern.
Frosh and Gallopoulos published the article “Strategies for Manufacturing” that is regarded as
the beginning of the field of Industrial Ecology.
The US President’s Council for Sustainable Development promoted the concept and development of “Eco-Industrial Parks” modeled
after Kalundborg’s successful inter-firm synergies. In spite of these efforts few EIPs ever came into existence, however, there are
many examples of byproduct exchanges and utility and service sharing throughout the US.
Kalundborg Centre for Industrial Symbiosis was formed to help facilitate inter-firm interaction and provide education
about the system.
First International Industrial Symbiosis Research Symposium held at Yale bringing together researchers
and practitioners from around the world. IS research symposia have subsequently been held in Stock-
holm, Sweden; Birmingham, England; and Toronto, Canada.
China’s State Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) promotes the concept of the circular economy and develops
a program to highlight and assist model eco-industrial parks across the country. The Tianjin Economic-Technological
Development Area (TEDA) is one example of an existing industrial region that has well developed industrial sym-
biosis linkages among facilities. TEDA was formed in 1984, and provides a utility sharing infrastructure including
electricity, gas, steam, water and wastewater treatment, for all regional facilities including reuses of rubber, ash,
metals, and organic materials.
The Kwinana Industries Synergies Project was established to identify and foster greater resource-based synergies among facili-
ties; the region currently boasts 32 byproduct exchanges and 15 utility synergies.
International Society for Industrial Ecology was formed. It promotes “the use of industrial ecology in research, education, policy,
community development, and industrial practices” around the world.
Symbiosis activities continue through the present, with new links formed between existing entities, new facilities located to utilize by-
products, and links that were no longer economically feasible were discontinued.
UK’s National Industrial Symbiosis Programme (NISP) was launched as the
first national scale IS initiative in the world to promote inter-firm synergies in
regions across the UK.
developement of symbiosis-relations
National Industrial Symbiosis Programme (NISP)
is a free innovative business opportunity programme delivering triple
bottom line, environmental, economic and social benefits across the UK.
As a holistic program, NISP impacts across the entire resource hierarchy,
delivering industrial CO2 reductions by adoption of industrial symbiotic
approaches to business. NISP has rapidly established itself as a leading
agency for resource efficiency across all forms (i.e. energy, water, virgin
minerals and waste materials).
The industrial symbiosis (IS) approach, a component of the much wider
field of Industrial Ecology, facilitates the identification of sustainable
business opportunities by working across traditional industry and sector
NISP is the only IS initiative in the world on a national scale[citation
needed] and is delivered across the entire UK through a network of 12
regionally based offices in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
In addition to this, NISP has been launched in China, Mexico and Brazil,
where similar results are expected.
With power production and resource consumption being the single largest
contributor to global climate change NISP’s approach to industrial inno-
vation has attracted international attention. The UK approach has been
praised by the United States and NISP recently assisted the setting up of
an IS programme in the State of Illinois. NISP is cited as an exemplar pro-
gramme by the European Commission for potential replication in Europe
As well as reducing over 1.30 million tonnes of CO2 emissions in its 18
months since its was launched in April 2005, NISP also made a signifi-
cant impact on the UK economy; engaging industry across the UK the
programme generated more than £65 million in additional industry sales,
saving businesses up to £145 million and being instrumental in securing
private investment in reprocessing and recycling facilities to the tune of
£32.1 million. NISP also diverted more than 1.6 million tonnes of waste
from landfill, saved over 1.8 million tonnes of virgin materials and reduced
industrial water use by over 387,000 tonnes.  NISP brings together
companies and organisations of all sectors and sizes, generating cost
reductions and new sales, as well as creating significant environmental
benefits such as reduced greenhouse gases. This encourages economic
activity which generates further social benefits with the creation of new
businesses and jobs, and stimulates process improvements by industry
through innovation and new technologies, the use of sustainable fuels and
fuel substitution, and greater production and logistic efficiency. Such in-
novation will, in turn, also create opportunities for UK businesses to pen-
etrate global environmental technology markets.
By being business led and commercially focused, NISP is helping its mem-
bers drive through long-term business cultural change that support them
in reducing their carbon footprint.
The programme is part funded through the Department for Environment,
Food and Rural Affairs’ Business Resource Efficiency and Waste (BREW)
programme, which uses money derived from increases in Landfill Tax to
encourage, support and help businesses improve their resource efficiency.
illustration of nettworks that can grow from cooperations and fora for knowledge exchange
Inorganics workshop march 2006
It is in the process of exchanging byproduckts the system and
buisnesses improves the environmental factors and economic
The exchange of wastes, by-products, and energy among closely situ-
ated firms in Kalundborg has become the impetus to and main tem-
plate for the movement to plan ecoindustrial parks. In recent years,
however, similar by-product exchange patterns have been observed in
other regions of Europe and North America. Cities may have, histori-
cally, played an important role in facilitating the creation of recycling
linkages between different industries. If Kalundborg and other newly
documented cases of localized interfirm recycling linkages are
contemporary manifestations of much older processes, then what
are the policy implications for current attempts to plan eco-industrial
It is important to look at the economic incentives that have always led
to the formation of cities and interfirm recycling linkages at both the
local and interregional levels. A critique of current interpretations and
policy prescriptions based on the Kalundborg case is argued that regu-
latory reform would prove more effective than planning to replicate the
Is current attempts to foster the development of eco-industrial parks
and eco-industrial networks too narrow in their geographical scope,
that public planning is unlikely to prove more efficient than private
initiatives, and is the most important lesson to be learned from
Kalundborg the value of a flexible regulatory framework?
from the article; Eco-Industrial Parks and the Rediscovery of Inter-Firm
Recycling Linkages, Pierre Desrochers
The ultimate goal
ecologists is that