Industrial symbiosis - the experts view

MURAT MIRATA is senior lecturer at Linköping University in Sweden and an expert in Industrial Symbiosis – a term he describes as follows:

Industrial symbiosis is a long-term collaboration between local actors, e.g. companies, municipalities and other organisations. The aim is to derive benefit from each other’s resources and use common services. It enables increased efficiencies, improved competitiveness and image, and also contributes to a more sustainable development.

Murat Mirata considers Industrial Symbiosis to be based on two fundamental mechanisms. The first is more effective use of residual- and by-products. ”This gives us two winners”, says Murat Mirata. In one of the companies a resource which was previously wasted becomes a valuable product. The other one obtains raw materials at competitive prices. The second fundamental mechanism entails the company deriving benefit from a common resource or service.

Even though interest in Industrial Symbiosis is increasing, there are numerous challenges along the way – including organisational, technical and economic. Murat Mirata provides a few tips along the way. “First and foremost, awareness must be raised among companies, organisations and other stakeholders. More actors must perceive the potential resulting from local partnerships”, he says. ”This is not a difficult task, but it does take time”.

”It is also important that different actors understand which requirements and needs there might be in a region. However, individual actors can find it difficult to make a wide-ranging evaluation of these needs. It can therefore be a good idea to collaborate with a university or a specialist company which can systematically identify the needs. Municipalities can also occupy this role and act as initiators to drive the collaboration forward”.