Implementation of Industrial Symbiosis : How can a collaborative network improve waste management?

University essay from KTH/Fastigheter och byggande; KTH/Fastigheter och byggande

Abstract: Global use of natural resources has accelerated during the past decade and emissions and waste have increased as a consequence. The construction sector is a major contributor to global carbon emissions and is responsible for as much as one-third of global greenhouse gas emissions. The negative impact that industries across the world are having on the environment is getting recognized as a serious problem and the environmental awareness is growing. A significant amount of this impact could be reduced with increased resource efficiency. Our economic system needs to undergo an unprecedented transformation, to stop environmental degradation but also to assure sustainable access to natural resources in the future. To tackle this issue, institutions are pressuring to move away from our current linear economy with its “take-make-dispose” characteristics and move towards a circular economy that is waste-free by design. The concept of Industrial Symbiosis is seen as a means to do that. In these industrial networks that resemble biological symbioses, waste or by-products of one company become a resource for another. By engaging traditionally separate industries in a collective approach involving physical exchange of materials, energy and by-products, it is possible to divert waste from landfill and reduce the negative impact on the environment. From a company perspective, Industrial Symbiosis can reduce the need for raw materials as well as waste disposal costs while allowing companies to create new revenue from residue and by products. The aim of this report was to investigate the perspectives that stakeholders have on a potential participation in an Industrial Symbiosis network and the complex interplay of drivers, facilitators and barriers to the implementation, as well as how the responsibilities among the stakeholders could be divided in order to implement this concept in the most effective way. This was done by interviewing key stakeholders within the construction industry to get an overall perspective on their views. The results indicated a generally positive outlook on the concept of Industrial Symbiosis among the stakeholders. Key drivers and barriers were identified as economic – companies are only willing to invest if it is profitable, regulatory – regulations are an important enabling factor as they create the right incentives for companies to participate, organizational – A transformation of the business model is necessary in order to implement circular economy and technological – Technological developments and innovations will aid the implementation as it can increase efficiency and transparency among the network participants. A tentative model has been generated where the responsibility distribution among the stakeholders have been mapped in order to give a greater understanding of the dynamics of a potential network.

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