The objective of the European Industrial Symbiosis Association (EUR-ISA) is to connect the various industrial symbiosis networks established in different European Member States. It uses a knowledge sharing platform for sharing resources, data, best practice, innovative ideas and expertise. This helps to enable a more rapid, wide scale implementation of industrial symbiosis across Europe, based on the proven models of EUR-ISA members.
In response to the global increase in waste accumulation, certain actors have begun to use resource scarcity and waste generation as solutions rather than problems. Industrial symbiosis describes the association between two or more companies or facilities in which the waste materials or by-products of one become the raw materials for the other. If firms turn their conventional partnership into part of a circular network, an initial step for an industrial symbiosis might be identified. Previously unexplored potential to add value, gain competitive advantage and achieve sustainable development goals may be tapped by through close and complex cooperation practices between industrial entities.
The European Resource Efficiency Platform (EREP) is a high level group that advises the European Commission on how to turn political will into action on the ground. In June 2013, the Group credited industrial symbiosis networks for reducing carbon, preserving resources and improving the competitiveness of European companies, especially SMEs. The EREP subsequently called for the wide-scale implementation of industrial symbiosis networks across Europe - which is how EUR-ISA came about. Membership of EUR-ISA is open to any organisation that has proven expertise in establishing and implementing a facilitated industrial symbiosis network at local, regional or national level. EUR-ISA provides a framework for bringing leaders from industry, professional associations, policy makers, and NGOs together, enhancing the cooperation between organisations and combining activities.
Joining the EUR-ISA leads to being part of an umbrella organisation which brings together those entities responsible for up to 10 established industrial symbiosis programmes (collectively engaged with more than 20,000 companies across Europe) and provides the European Commission with a focal point to accelerate industrial symbiosis in Europe. Besides networking and the dissemination of information, the EUR-ISA develops a range of instruments helping to drive European industry.
The network facilitates sharing good practice and generates support to business by driving circular approaches to conventional processes. Environmental benefits include a lower net waste production and a reduction in each company’s carbon footprint by diverting waste from landfill. Financial benefits include a reduction in raw material and waste disposal costs, the potential for new revenue from residues and by-products, and from new business opportunities.
The concept of EUR-ISA has been tested for over a year, qualifying it for an estimated level 5 on the generic maturity scale GML. The Group aims to establish an effective framework to connect the multiple industrial symbiosis networks across European member states for the benefit of industry and governments alike. Bringing together the combined expertise of experienced industrial symbiosis delivery teams from across Europe under the EUR-ISA umbrella, will ensure that the European Commission and the Member States can readily access information, support and guidance in establishing and implementing an industrial symbiosis network.