Industrial symbiosis has great potential to contribute to European efforts towards CO2 neutrality and establishment of a circular industry in Europe.
This study assesses a portfolio of 28 EU funded projects on industrial symbiosis, as well as experiences from two industrial sites that apply industrial symbiosis broadly in practice. On this basis, it provides insight into the underlying processes and conditions for establishing, deploying and maintaining industrial symbiosis.
Furthermore, input from members of the industrial symbiosis community was included in the analysis through a questionnaire and two workshops. The study also analyses technological and non-technological factors to accelerate implementation and deployment of industrial symbiosis paradigms. These include infrastructure, research and innovation (R&I) needs and funding, but also regulatory and standardisation needs. In this context, digital technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain, are seen as key technological building blocks in managing complex cross-sectoral and multi-actor operations, as well as in safeguarding data integrity and confidentiality, one of the main hurdles to industrial symbiosis.
The study introduces the concept of symbiosis readiness level (SRL), which goes beyond technological maturity by making it possible to define the level of readiness for integration of a technology into a complex industrial symbiosis context. It also highlights the importance of facilitation mechanisms and actors in establishing the required cross-sectoral cooperation leading to industrial symbiosis initiatives.
The recommendations of the study include the establishment of a community-of-practice to identify, collect and disseminate best practices in industrial symbiosis; identify the potential for industrial urban symbiosis via circularity hubs proposed by industry, the establishment of an open data source information exchange platform for industrial symbiosis; and an increase in R&I-funding to foster implementation of industrial symbiosis.