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Deploying industrial-urban symbiosis solutions for the utilization of energy, water, industrial waste and by-products at regional scale (Processes4Planet Partnership) (RIA)


In March 2020, the European Commission launched the Circular Economy Action Plan for a cleaner and more competitive Europe. In order to accelerate the transition to a circular economy, exemplary pilot solutions integrating industrial urban symbiosis need to be exploited. The solutions could cover the reduction of waste, virgin raw materials and energy and water consumption, mainly by transforming underused waste materials (both industrial waste, industrial side streams, by-products and end of life urban waste) into feedstock for the process industries (urban mining). To support a wide implementation of industrial urban symbiosis for waste utilization, the regional dimension is important since connexion with local energy and utility networks, adjacent industrial infrastructures and available by-products is crucial and will have to be considered in a holistic approach.

Technology and social based innovations should prove the potential for novel symbiotic value chains in demonstrators involving multiple industrial sectors (combining non-exhaustively energy, process and manufacturing industries) in pilot industrial settings. Projects are expected to address several but not necessarily all following aspects:

  • A broad cross-sectorial symbiosis and circularity implementation from a regional perspective to potentially achieve climate neutrality by 2050 including cooperation with other suitable regions in terms of availability of resources, technologies, available infrastructures and knowledge transfer;
  • Cross-cutting solutions (processes and equipment) for the processing of side/waste streams specifically for the use as feedstock for plants and companies across sectors and/or across value chains, while increasing the resource efficiency/circularity in industrial value chains;
  • Process (re-)design and adaptation to integrate new processes (energy and material flow coupling, infrastructure and logistics) and create new synergies between sectors;
  • Integration of novel sensing technology, IoT and digital tools to support design (including AI driven tools for the discovery of hidden pathways), flow optimization and controls;
  • Concepts, tools and business models for the flexible and robust management of exchange streams in dynamic production environments to maximise the impact on sustainability while respecting the technical limitations, economic interests of the producers and the interests of citizens;
  • IT infrastructures and tools that provide a secure basis for the integrated management and the preservation of confidentiality of sensitive data;
  • Assessment methodologies and KPIs to measure the performance of symbiosis, including environmental, economic and social impacts (including SRL). Life cycle assessment and life cycle cost analysis should take into account existing sustainability standards (e.g. ISO 14000) and existing best practices;
  • Development/use (preferred) of common reporting methodologies for the assessment of industrial symbiosis activities and exchanges in close collaboration with the European Community of Practice (ECoP);
  • Tools to support companies in redefining their products process and systems from the point of view of design, production, logistic and business models, preferably based on the outcomes of previous projects (see for example SPIRE project portfolio on Industrial Symbiosis);
  • Study social aspects of the community and its improvement through the I-US where demonstration pilot is located (social innovation, underdevelopment, job quality gender and inclusiveness perspective);
  • Create societal awareness through a participative approach locally and more broadly, highlighting and communicating political and regulatory obstacle between regions/countries.

Proposals submitted under this topic should include a business case and exploitation strategy, as outlined in the introduction to this Destination. Interoperability for data sharing should be addressed.

Clustering and cooperation with other selected projects under this cross-cutting call and others in HE, with European initiatives (as for example: Circular Cities and Regions Initiative (CCRI) and European Circular Economy Stakeholder Panel (ECESP)), as well as building on existing projects[[e.g. Sharebox, Scaler, CIRCLEAN network or JRC Industry mapping EIGL, etc.]] is strongly encouraged, see also Industrial Symbiosis Report from March 2020[[Study and Portfolio Review of Cluster of Projects on Industrial Symbiosis]].

In order to achieve the expected outcomes, international cooperation is encouraged on IS/I-US/circularity technologies and their implementation in processes, with INCO countries advanced in the field that could bring mutual benefit from different perspective.

This topic implements the co-programmed European partnership Processes4Planet.