A Roadmap for Industrial Symbiosis Standardisation for Efficient Resource Sharing

Industrial symbiosis (IS) is an effective solution to address the „zero” ambitions underscored by the EU policies and laws such as net-zero, zero-pollution and zero-waste to achieve the 2050 climate-neutrality and the circularity goals as well as a strong contributor to the EU green and digital agenda.

By sharing or exchanging underutilised resources, industries and sectors that traditionally operate separately, can create mutual benefits while reducing the overall adverse environmental, social and economic impacts of their operations.

What is industrial symbiosis?

Industrial symbiosis (IS) is the use by one company or sector of underutilised resources broadly defined (including waste, by-products, residues, energy, water, logistics, capacity, expertise, equipment and materials) from another, with the result of keeping resources in productive use for longer.

Definition of IS from CEN Workshop Agreement 17354

For most industry sectors, the majority of IS opportunities lie outside one’s own sector. Therefore, sectoral and inter-sectoral standardisation is critical to overcome the key barriers for IS that currently exist in order to ensure that materials and products are interchangeable, and that the systems and processes used are compatible and efficient.

Currently, CEN-CENELEC Strategic Advisory Body on Environment (SABE) Circular Economy Topic Group (CE-TG) recognises 210 standards or initiatives relevant to circular economy in such sectors as plastics, electronics, batteries, textiles, and construction. However, standards for industrial symbiosis are still lacking.

  • multiplicity of actors involved, 
  • need for cross-sectoral collaborations, 
  • regulatory compliance, 
  • lack of data and integration with R&I,
  • lack of incentivisation and favourable market environment.  
  • technical solutions, systems and processes are not compatible, 
  • resources are not interoperable,
  • materials and products are not interchangeable
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