Source of funding
Name of client/donor
DG Enterprise and Industry
Overall project value
October 2013 – April 2015
Number of staff
At international level, the concept of circular economy is becoming well known as part of the efforts to build up sustainable production and consumption models. A key component of this is the creation of multiple values by using the same or smaller amounts of resources. Increasing awareness of the potential of the circular economy and new business models could create new market opportunities. Industrial symbiosis promotes resource efficiency ("doing more with less") by allowing waste to be transformed into a resource for different industries and creating opportunities for developing more competitive manufacturing industries.
The general objective of the study was to identify relevant waste streams and players, as well as the economic levers for promoting waste as a resource in Europe in the context of industrial symbiosis. More specifically, the study aimed to investigate the market potential of five waste streams from the perspective of waste as a resource and their suitability for industrial symbiosis; present an inventory of the main industrial symbiosis clusters/networks in the EU for the five waste streams; and identify best practices and where there is significant potential for their spread within the EU.
A funnel approach was applied in the study, starting with the identification of a set of industries where waste as a resource can be further enhanced by using industrial symbiosis. For this set of industries the focus was subsequently on waste and material streams, with the goal of selecting five material streams with untapped potential. For these five material streams the analysis was further narrowed in terms of a market analysis combined with an assessment of industrial symbiosis potential for increasing competitiveness, as well as an analysis of the drivers and obstacles and of the regulatory and other framework conditions that co-determine the results. For each of the five selected material streams policy options to improve competitiveness through industrial symbiosis were presented. On the basis of these results, calculations related to the circular economy from the industrial symbiosis perspective were then presented along with the economic benefits of using industrial symbiosis for the EU28 economy as whole.
The REC played a leading role in the literature review and in the selection of a preliminary list of industries where waste as a resource can be further enhanced by using industrial symbiosis. The REC was also involved in data collection for selected waste streams; the creation of a methodology to select the most relevant waste streams; and the analysis of the regulatory and other framework conditions.
- Literature review
- Data collection and analysis
- Creation of an analytical framework
- Evaluation of economic benefits