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Potential of Industrial Symbiosis in Europe

Identify concrete pathways to facilitate and coordinate the implementation of new initiatives on industrial symbiosis. This should include an assessment of the mechanisms to create incentives for the industry and align it with the delivery of public and environmental benefits.

The proposal should analyse the implications at different levels (individual entities, local, regional and national level) as well as quantify the benefits. It should also elaborate the need for standardisation of methods for quantification of the benefits of industrial symbiosis, including joint protocols for control and ICT systems. The analysis should include considerations on infrastructure (e.g. thermal storage and distribution networks) as well as investment needs. Lastly, the analysis should cover the management (financial, legal etc.), which is a critical issue to the proposed flow exchanges between and among entities, located within the same industrial park/cluster or among entities at different locations.

Research, technology development and demonstration needs of industrial symbiosis should be evaluated. This should include both technological barriers (e.g. purity and amount of available resources, separation needs), and non-technological barriers for implementation across sectors and between industry and society. This should lead to the identification and mapping of the potential for industrial symbiosis in different regions together with the potential bottlenecks.

The action should actively seek to link with on-going projects related to SPIRE and build on their experiences.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU between EUR 0.5 and 1.0 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

No more than one action will be funded.

The Circular Economy approach is dependent on industrial symbiosis whereby waste and by-products from one factory are used as an input for other factories. Such inter-plant integration can be crucial to cut energy consumption (e.g. through heat/cold recovery) avoid waste and create a business case for by-products and gaseous effluents and thereby decouple the use of resources from economic growth. By further combining industrial parks and clusters with utility companies, it could be possible to create systems that are not only very efficient, but also produces much less waste than current practice and thereby reduce the environmental burden of industrial processes.

Imperative here is to remove regulatory bottlenecks to allow these flows and avoid double punishment of the companies. Future R&I should increase the performance and cost effectiveness of the above mentioned cross-cutting technologies, demonstrate them in real life, so as to remove the barriers and ensure they are widely deployed across all sectors.

While industrial symbiosis is increasingly considered to be an essential part of economic and environmental policy (notably the Circular Economy and COP21) and seen as crucial to achieve their objectives, given that over 20 % of all global resources are used and transformed in the process industries, the benefits and the dynamics involved needs to be better understood before the concept can be fully implemented.

Industrial symbiosis is currently most effective for directly recyclable and biodegradable materials and bioenergy. In the future Research and Innovation should support technologies that have the potential to broaden the basis for useful material flows, and should optimize inter-plant integration through integrated control systems, which exploit the benefits of the 4th industrial revolution. Innovation in feedstock mobilisation, renewable energy process technology and sustainable integrated process technologies could generate a huge leverage effect for competitiveness of European Industries by targeting at the same time decarbonisation, energy security, raw material dependence and cost, as well as have a very positive effect on local development. Industrial symbiosis requires engagement with regional and national authorities, as part of an overall strategy.

  • Identification of a list of best practices of industrial symbiosis, as well as new potential locations allowing industrial symbiosis in Europe, together with an estimate of the investment needs to unlock the potential.
  • Better identification of essential technologies and dissemination of best practices for industrial symbiosis together with potential incentives that could support large-scale initiatives.
  • Identification of an increased number of identified potential business cases based on the integration of ""alternative"" streams (such as heat, waste, by-products and gaseous effluents) from business and public entities.
  • Evaluation of the potential economic and environmental impact (including resource and energy savings, waste reduction) of industrial symbiosis, based on LCA .
  • Speeding up cross-sectorial transfer of technologies.
  • Estimation of the potential reduction in operational and logistics costs from a wide implementation of industrial symbiosis in Europe.
  • Best practice for the involvement of regional and national authorities.