The saying is that ‘one person’s waste is another person’s treasure’. The original intention of industrial symbiosis was to create relationships resulting in waste-to-input linkages, mimicking natural systems and moving industry towards a circular economy. In practice, waste-to-feedstock remain an important component of IS, but other symbiotic collaboration around energy, water, and even business services like transportation have also emerged.
Industrial symbiosis is also catalyzing industry-led innovation, and has become an entry point for businesses to pursue product, technology and process design and re-design, including incorporating design for environment and biomimicry principles.
Photo: Peter Laybourn, NSIP-UK Founder, EUR-ISA Launch, Nov 2013
Industrial symbiosis marks a fundamental shift in the industrial system away from traditional and often environmentally and socially harmful productive systems toward a circular model of consumption and production that more fully accounts for factors beyond just the bottom line. Industrial symbiosis has now been endorsed by the EU and the Global Green Growth Forum as a key platform for advancing a sustainable economy.
Connecting Industry and Creating Opportunity
Light House Sustainable Building Centre is facilitating the creation of the National Industrial Symbiosis Program (NISP) – Canada, a national network to catalyze industrial symbiosis in 3-5 cities, as part of Cities for People. NISP-Canada, like the international programs on which it is modeled, will help to systematically and strategically establish these relationships of exchange with benefits that include stimulating innovation, strengthening business competitiveness, reducing costs, diversifying revenue streams, and more efficiently and effectively managing resources.
The target regions are across Canada including: Metro Vancouver, Metro Toronto, Alberta Capital Region, Greater Montreal, Edmonton and Halifax Region. The launch is taking place at the GLOBE 2014 Conference in March 2014, and involves NISP-UK founder, Peter Laybourn.
In Canada, smaller, community-centred industrial symbiosis projects, such as the Strathcona Business Improvement Association (SBIA)’s Green Zone and the False Creek Flats Green Enterprise Initiative, are also identifying impacts of greater social cohesion at the community level, employment of hard-to-hire and marginalized populations in delivering the exchanged material, and central engagement of the arts as economic actors, communicators and connectors.
Industrial symbiosis links supports the following outcomes:
Marginalized communities are engaged through meaningful work in the green economy;
Resources flow through the economy with less waste and more re-purposing;
Materials are sourced locally for a lower carbon footprint;
New models are tested for sustainable purchasing;
Artists and arts practitioners are engaged as economic actors re-purposing materials and as key connectors and storytellers.
You can support NISP Canada in one of the following ways:
- Provide a letter of support for the program
- Promote NISP Canada to your network
- Provide meeting space for participants in your region
- Provide additional financial support for our 3 year pilot
NISP Canada is generously supported by a grant from The J. W. McConnell Family Foundation as part of Cities for People, collaborative experiments in making cities better.
Photo credits: National Industrial Symbiosis Programme