Integral Logistics Management — Operations Management and Supply Chain Management Within and Across Companies

3.3.4b Industrial Symbiosis, and Measures for Improved Environmental Performance Using Triple Bottom Line (TBL) Thinking

Intended learning outcomes: Produce an overview on major aims of industrial symbiosis. Present measures such as enhanced utilization of wastes, the recovery of medium and low temperature waste heat, and the framework for alternative fuels and resources.

Continuation from previous subsection (3.3.4)

The following presents exemplary approaches on the subject of circular economy for improvements that can be classified under the term industrial symbiosis.

Industrial symbiosis is defined as an approach for companies, where a by-product (or waste) of one company serves as feedstock to another company. See, for example, [ChLi07].

Figure shows the major aim of industrial symbiosis, namely, the implementation of cycle flows that reduce material and energy waste. Similarly, Figure showed an example of an industrial symbiosis kind of concept that can reduce the amount of waste and simultaneously achieve cost savings. To become a viable option for a broader spectrum of companies, the alternative materials need to fulfill certain criteria and be less costly than virgin raw materials. Besides processing issues, several risks from Figure need to be taken into account.

Fig.        Major aims of industrial symbiosis. Adapted from [KoMa04].

The following examples are measures that may be taken in the field of industrial symbiosis (based on [ScVo10]).

Firstly, the enhanced utilization of wastes: Industry is increasingly interested in access to by-products, which were previously considered “wastes.” Pretreatment, transport, storage, and an efficient use of alternative fuels in existing processes enables higher substitution rates of scarce resources and fossil fuels to be obtained.

  • Production processes need to cope with alternative feedstocks related to product quality, energy efficiency, and emissions.
  • Mapping and integration of the possible flows of materials and energy is required, while efficiently identifying the best possible reuse (in both economic and environmental matters).
  • Complexity in the market needs to be reduced on different levels to detect sources and sinks of by-products.

Secondly, the recovery of medium and low temperature waste heat, i.e., heat around and below 150 °C: The respective amount of heat is significant. In contrast to current approaches, the analysis needs to take place at various production plants from different sectors.

  • A suitable method needs to be developed for plant, industry, and cross-industry analysis to detect heat recovery potentials.
  • Collaboration potentials need to be explored and promising partnerships between heat sources and sinks identified to apply advanced technologies for heat recovery, transport, and exchange and benefit from synergies

Thirdly, the framework for alternative fuels and resources: This approach is reminiscent of the eco-industrial parks, in which nearby located plants share and use their by-products, energy, information, and capacities in order to increase overall efficiency and productivity. Planning an industrial park of this kind seldom resulted in real eco­logical and economic benefits. This approach therefore aims at supporting existing industries in efficiently sharing and distributing information and by-products.

  • Research should address the collaboration of alternative fuel and resource (AFR) suppliers and users on a cross-sectoral basis to learn about the amounts and suitability of by-products.
  • Integrated process chains across industries should be formed in networks of industrial partners to increase the AFR availability. The risk of dependencies requires attention.
  • Awareness needs to be fostered so that available materials find their way into a suitable reuse as a standardized commodity, in spite of the fact that today’s waste market is rather localized.

Course section 3.3: Subsections and their intended learning outcomes