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About this book

The book is designed to help public and private decision-makers and academics deepen their knowledge and understanding of the contexts, obstacles and challenges of a variety of business types involved in Industrial Symbiosis and Circular Economy practices.
Industrial Symbiosis is reported in the Action Plan on the Circular Economy developed by the European Commission in 2015 (COM / 2015/0614 final) and in its revision of 14 March 2017, but relatively little is known of how these practices start, develop or fail, and mutate in a rapidly changing context.
Including selected contributions presented at the 24th ISDRS 2018 Conference, “Actions for a Sustainable World: from theory to practice” in the two theme tracks “5c. Circular economy, zero waste & innovation” and “5g. Industrial symbiosis, networking and cooperation as part of industrial ecology”, this book offers a transdisciplinary perspective on real experiences of industrial symbiosis, performed both by industries and the scientific community, best practices, success and unsuccessful cases (implemented or under implementation), with the final aim to promote the adoption of Industrial Symbiosis as an operational and systematic tool for the Circular Economy. In particular, a focus on the environmental, social, and economic impact of Circular Economy and Industrial Symbiosis practices, and how those impacts may be context and/or scale dependent is given.

Table of Contents


Chapter 1. Relating Industrial Symbiosis and Circular Economy to the Sustainable Development Debate

Industrial Symbiosis (IS) is a business-focused collaborative approach oriented towards resource efficiency that has been theorised and studied mainly over the last 25 years. Recently, IS seems to have found a renewed impetus in the framework of the Circular Economy (CE), a novel approach to sustainability and Sustainable Development (SD) that has been rapidly gaining momentum worldwide. This opening chapter of the book provides an introduction to the concepts of IS, CE and SD, and summarises their complex evolutionary paths, recalling the relevant developments and implementation challenges. In addition, the authors point out the divergences and interrelations of these concepts, both among themselves and with other related concepts and research fields, such as industrial ecology, ecological modernisation and the green economy. Furthermore, the potential contribution of IS and the CE to SD is briefly discussed, also highlighting critical issues and trade-offs, as well as gaps in research and application, especially relating to the social component of sustainability. Particular attention is given to the potential role of IS in the achievement of targets connected to the Sustainable Development Goals set in the UN Agenda 2030. The recent advances in the IS and CE discussion in the context of the SD research community are further explored, with particular emphasis on the contribution of the International Sustainable Development Research Society (ISDRS) and its 24th annual conference organised in Messina, Italy, in 2018. The programme of that conference, indeed, included specific tracks on the above-mentioned themes, the contents of which are briefly commented on here, after an overview of the whole conference and the main cross-cutting concepts emerged. In the last part of the chapter, a brief description of the chapters collected in the book is presented. These contributions describe and discuss theoretical frameworks, methodological approaches and/or experiences and case studies where IS and the principles of CE are applied in different geographical contexts and at different scales to ultimately improve the sustainability of the current production patterns.
Andrea Cecchin, Roberta Salomone, Pauline Deutz, Andrea Raggi, Laura Cutaia

Chapter 2. Guiding SMEs Towards the Circular Economy: A Case Study

Most companies operate on a linear economy that consists of “take, make, use and waste.” However, the growing impact of industries’ emissions on the environment has aroused global concerns about their activities. As a result, companies are increasingly aware of the importance of implementing a circular economy (CE) with environmental, social and economic beneficial results. In this transition to a circular system, companies will need guidance, especially in the case of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which are the predominant type of company in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) area. Taking this into account, the objective of this chapter is to provide SMEs with a methodology to understand the value of CE for their corporate strategy, diagnose their business and design an action plan to facilitate the transition to the CE, allowing them to create value and gain a competitive advantage in the market. The CE could be addressed through six fields of action: take, make, distribute, use and recover goods and materials (Park et al. in J Clean Prod 18:1492–1499, 2010; Stahel in Nature 24:6–9, 2016), and a transversal field of action called industrial symbiosis. These six fields of action are the methodology’s backbone. The CE methodology for an SME consists of the following steps: Diagnose the company’s situation, through reflection on the current value proposal, the stakeholders and a preliminary diagnosis regarding its level of CE application through a proposed diagnosis tool. Analyze barriers and opportunities derived from the application of the CE. Propose a CE implementation plan. This chapter will explain, the process followed, and the various results obtained in the rubber-metal company. The proposed methodology makes an important contribution to SMEs’ professionals regarding the step-by-step implementation of the CE using a real case that shows how to identify, plan and capitalize on the opportunities of the circular economy. The case study reveals how SMEs can start implementing the paradigm shift through environmental strategies that do not usually require high amounts of financial resources or technology. Moreover, the case study also highlights the relevance of the CE for creating value and a competitive strategy in the market.
Marta Ormazabal, Vanessa Prieto-Sandoval, Javier Santos, Carmen Jaca

Chapter 3. Resources Audit as an Effective Tool for the Implementation of Industrial Symbiosis Paths for the Transition Towards Circular Economy

The optimisation and the resources saving can represent an economic lever and support companies’ competitiveness. In Italy, the national government has established a strong policy for energy saving, energy efficiency and for incentives to energy production from renewable sources, whereas polices and tools for improving resource efficiency have not been developed yet. The purpose of this work is to present an operational methodology, developed by ENEA, for the audit of resources at the company level, with the aim to boost resource efficiency, thus obtaining both economic and environmental advantages. This methodology operates both internally, by means of an efficiency increase and processes optimisation, and externally, by means of the cooperation with other companies and stakeholders at territorial level (industrial symbiosis). The proposed resources audit is based firstly on the analysis of input and output resources used and produced by a company and then on the investigation of possible options to reduce their consumption or under-utilization (waste disposal, etc.).
Laura Cutaia, Tiziana Beltrani, Valentina Fantin, Erika Mancuso, Silvia Sbaffoni, Marco La Monica

Chapter 4. Structure and Relationships of Existing Networks in View of the Potential Industrial Symbiosis Development

This study investigates how different typologies of networks could be potentially related to the development of an Industrial Symbiosis (IS). The structural and relational features (entities/nodes and flows/ties, respectively) of various types of typical networks (planned industrial areas, local supply networks, districts, ecologically equipped industrial areas and innovation poles) have been considered. This study is based both on evidences from the literature and on the experience gained by the authors by dealing with the potential development of IS in existing Italian industrial networks and clusters. The approach followed is mainly inductive: data collected in studies concerning the features of the networks analyzed were used for a meta-analysis, in order to investigate how their morphology can be related to the development of an IS. Since the focus is on socio-technical contexts, both qualitative and quantitative data and information have been used. The structural and organizational elements of the various contexts, as well as the physical and social relationships that characterize them, have been investigated. The results obtained show that such networking variables can assume different connotations on the various contexts and are able to play a significant role in the potential development of IS. We expect this analysis to provide both methodological and applicative contributions to IS studies and to the policies for a sustainable industrial re-development at a local level, especially in those countries where local networks are widespread.
Alberto Simboli, Raffaella Taddeo, Andrea Raggi, Anna Morgante

Chapter 5. Industrial Symbiosis for the Circular Economy Implementation in the Raw Materials Sector—The Polish Case

Raw materials used across the entire supply chain play a crucial role in the global economy. However, different types of mining and processing waste are generated in the production process. Waste from the extractive industry is one of the largest waste streams in Poland as well as in the EU (29% of total waste). With the development of new technology most of these wastes can be a potential source of new materials, often critical ones, or can serve as a substitute for building or construction materials. Moreover, by-products occur in many geological deposits, which can then be separated, usually with the consumption of a significant amount of energy, at various stages in the production processes of the main raw materials. This study aims to develop a proposal for the prioritisation of the management of the different types of waste and by-products generated based on the MoSCoW method during the implementation of the concept of industrial symbiosis. The analysis takes economic, financial and environmental (Life Cycle Assessment) conditions into consideration, and there is a literature review to assess the legal incentives for and barriers to the development of a strategy for a circular economy for the mining industry. A case study is presented showing how industrial symbiosis can minimise waste flow in the brown coal industry in Poland.
Joanna Kulczycka, Ryszard Uberman, Ewa Dziobek

Chapter 6. Towards Sustainable E-Waste Management Through Industrial Symbiosis: A Supply Chain Perspective

The issue of e-waste is global and is a mini catastrophe which is a big threat to the whole anthropogenosphere. There has been a laudable amount of research activities going on around the world on e-waste management for the last two decades. The last decade saw acceleration in developing and/or modifying technologies for environmentally sound e-waste recycling. However, this anthropogenic stockpile can be used for resource recovery and circulation. This is the main concept of urban mining, which facilitates the recovery of material and energy from urban waste and brings them back into the economy. The term urban mining has become synonymous with e-waste recycling as it is the most potential candidate for urban mining. It is important to tap this huge resource and bring it back to the economy. In reality, the stakeholders of e-waste business work in silos. It is quite relevant to bring them under one umbrella and look at things more in a systems approach. Partnership with the several units working as elements of an efficient supply chain will pave the path towards industrial symbiosis. Under the current investigation, the opportunities for establishing industrial symbiosis in case of e-waste recycling have been explored. A conceptual framework has been proposed based on literature survey and further analysis. Two realistic scenarios have been conceptualised—Presence of the companies in (a) two or three neighbouring zones and (b) scattered zone. A generalised discussion from the perspectives of sustainability has been provided to evaluate the two scenarios. It is expected to serve as prima facie for development of decision support systems in the future.
Biswajit Debnath

Chapter 7. Supply Chain Management for Circular Economy in Latin America: RedES-CAR in Colombia

This chapter describes a supply chain programme for the dissemination of circular economy strategies such as cleaner production and industrial symbiosis in an emerging market context. The Sustainable Enterprise Network methodology (RedES) included a triple helix partnership, sponsored by a regional environmental authority (Corporación Autónoma Regional de Cundinamarca, CAR), operated by Universidad de los Andes School of Management (UASM) together with four other universities to introduce circular economy strategies in 335 private companies. The RedES-CAR experience shows how supply chain models contribute to sustainability in environmentally and socially vulnerable contexts by enhancing dissemination and collaboration among a critical mass of companies, universities, and environmental authorities. The chapter highlights the RedES-CAR programme’s key features, benefits obtained by participating firms, and lessons learned, thus contributing to the understanding of methodologies to disseminate circular economy tools in supply chains in emerging markets.
Bart van Hoof, Juanita Duque-Hernández

Chapter 8. Emilia-Romagna (Italy) Innovative Experiences on Circular Economy

In recent years, the European Community adopted a sensitive attitude to the circular economy approach and in particular to industrial symbiosis, in order to achieve greater overall sustainability of production processes. The Emilia-Romagna Region adopted this approach, issuing a Regional Law on Circular Economy. This law provides a framework of rules and recommendations necessary and essential in order to raise public awareness and encourage good practices in the local community. This paper has the aim of presenting such regulatory framework, favourable to the development of circular economy and industrial symbiosis experiments. In this context, several initiatives have been recently realized within the regional territory. In particular, three different experiences carried out since 2012 are described in terms of activities and results: a collaborative action between the industrial sector and research institution, a transnational policy improvement action, and an example on how technological innovation can facilitate industrial symbiosis. The lessons learnt from these projects point out that regulatory and cultural aspects are perceived as the main barriers towards the systemic implementation of industrial symbiosis and therefore should be a priority for the future.
Ugo Mencherini, Sara Picone, Lorenzo Calabri, Manuela Ratta, Tullia Gallina Toschi, Vladimiro Cardenia

Chapter 9. The Role of Collaborative and Integrated Approach Towards a Smart Sustainable District: The Real Case of Roveri Industrial District

This chapter presents the case of a historic industrial district in the city of Bologna (Italy): Roveri District. Here a transition process towards a smart sustainable district has been started and a systemic, integrated and bottom-up approach put the basis for the conception of the sustainable model in order to transform the district into Roveri Smart Village. Roveri Industrial District was settled in the early ‘70s as an industrial area in the outskirts. In the last years, the whole district was incorporated into the southern urban area of Bologna. Currently, Roveri Industrial District represents one of the Italian Metropolitan areas with the highest concentration of small and medium-sized enterprises. Nevertheless, district management does not already exist. Recent economic contingencies have induced a general, not coordinated transformation of the past industrial structure. Therefore, the combination of regeneration and sustainability actions is the main challenge to which Roveri Smart Village Project aims. This chapter presents the development of a collaborative and integrated approach to support the Roveri industrial district transformation. Especially, methods and actions supporting the creation of new sustainable industrial practices for the Roveri Smart Village community are described in detail. In this process, governance models, collaborative processes and innovative solutions based on industrial symbiosis scenarios and energy efficiency have enforced the Roveri transformation. The results are connected to steer the innovation towards an industrial Smart Sustainable District (SSD) and to build the district community based on a strong network of enterprises and local stakeholders. In this process, circular economy and energy efficiency applications can act also as strategic tools favouring this collaborative and integrated approach establishment and put the basis for a transferable model that can inspire the transformation of other industrial districts.
Francesca Cappellaro, Laura Cutaia, Giovanni Margareci, Simona Scalbi, Paola Sposato, Maria-Anna Segreto, Edi Valpreda

Chapter 10. ALL YOU CAN’T EAT: Research and Experiences from Agri-Food Waste to New Building Products in a Circular Economy Perspective

In a Circular Economy context, agri-food can play an important role, since the majority of waste consists of residues potentially usable as secondary raw materials in several industrial processes, including the building sector. This chapter deals with some outcomes achieved in research projects carried out by TeAM (Tecnologia & Ambiente) of Politecnico di Torino in partnership with Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). In particular, it describes a cluster of research projects entitled ALL YOU CAN’T EAT, focusing on the recycling of agricultural residues and food waste: both are used for developing new products for the construction industry and for promoting the transition from “waste” to “resource”. The paper highlights some open issues that must be considered when moving from experimentation to industrial production and symbiosis, such as: is the amount of waste sufficient to be put into a new production cycle and to ensure the continuity of the supply chain (and its economic sustainability)? Does a circular product really have a lower environmental impact than linear alternatives?
Roberto Giordano, Elena Montacchini, Silvia Tedesco

Chapter 11. A Sustainable Approach to the Re-use of Biomass: Synergy Between Circular Agroindustry and Biorefinery Models

The symbiosis approach is consistent with the territorial model presented in this chapter, promoting a new zero-waste agribusiness model, achievable through efficient small and industrial-scale biorefineries to produce active biomolecules for different applications. A picture of some Italian best practices applied to the re-use of agro-industrial waste and by-products (from Olea europaea L., Vitis vinifera L., Castanea sativa Mill) is given, highlighting the synergies occurring among the agro-industrial systems involved.
Annalisa Romani, Margherita Campo, Giovanni Lagioia, Manuela Ciani Scarnicci, Annarita Paiano

Chapter 12. Valorization of Agricultural Wastes and Biorefineries: A Way of Heading to Circular Economy

In a circular economy, one tries to encompass closed loops between different value chains introducing changes in the production and consumption patterns. Design for the environment, extended producer responsibility, critical consumption, cleaner production, biomimicry, degrowth, etc. are some of the strategies that will help to foster a circular economy. Industrial symbiosis is another effective strategy to achieve such a goal. Agro-industrial wastes provide an enormous potential to generate sustainable products and bioenergy. An integrated biorefinery is turning into a promising solution with multiple outputs (biofuel, bioactive compounds, and biomaterials). In this paper a couple of biorefineries are described as a way to contribute to circular economy: a biorefinery based in seeds and vegetable wastes and a biorefinery based in a cactus’ fruit, Opuntia Joconostle. Also, the possible valorizations of different agricultural wastes in Mexican systems and the symbiotic systems are described. The combination of several of these synergies in the same system will lead to an industrial symbiosis system. The use of these symbiotic systems on a large scale could give a significant contribution towards a circular economy in the agricultural sector. Most of the valorizations described have been tested or proposed by the authors in real examples in Spain and Mexico. Barriers and lessons learned in the implementation of both biorefinery and symbiotic systems are discussed.
Gemma Cervantes, Luis G. Torres, Mariana Ortega
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