Enhancing Policies for Deployment of Industrial Symbiosis: What Are the Obstacles, Drivers and Future Way Forward?

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This paper contains an analysis of Industrial symbiosis policies to explore how development Industrial symbiosis systems is influenced by policies and to examine how future policy frameworks can designed to best support the development of Industrial symbiosis systems. Industrial symbiosis is in the paper defined as the connection of traditionally separate industries in a collective effort to simultaneously increase competitive advantage and reduce environmental impacts by means of byproduct exchange and shared infrastructure. The paper is based on three components: First, the paper reviews, journal articles to provide a policy landscape overview of how such Industrial symbiosis systems are supported by policies and in which areas new policy needs can be identified. Secondly, the paper reviews and discusses policies and framework conditions, provided by the European Union (EU), the United Nations (UN) and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) designed to support the development of Industrial symbiosis systems The analysis distinguishes between direct and indirect policies in order to emphasize that the development of Industrial symbiosis systems is influenced not only by policies directly targeting industrial symbiosis but also by general framework conditions that may not have been designed with Industrials symbiosis in mind. To improve the understanding of such in direct policies the paper thirdly includes a case study from Denmark, Maabjerg Energy Center (MEC). This case provides new insights into the application of Industrial symbiosis concepts, especially with regards to how framework conditions and indirect policies can influence and shape the development of industrial symbiosis systems. Based on these three components, this paper analyses obstacles and drivers for a further dissemination of Industrial symbiosis within the EU, and suggest key points for further assessment and development on a potential way forward. From the literature review and framework conditions assessed, general recommendations are provided whereof many relate to the potential benefits of focusing more on development and re-development of indirect incentive schemes fostering symbiotic behavior in industries as opposed to focusing only on designing policies exclusively based on direct top-down regulations. From the case analysis, several examples of more context-specific drivers and obstacles were highlighted as valuable in the given situation including the potential benefit of more flexible funding schemes, the importance of positive value-based communication to gain political support on the local, regional and national environment, feed-in tariffs and tax reliefs and the relevance of having centralized legal organs with specialized competencies on regional or national level to support development and implementation efforts.

Original languageEnglish
Article number124351
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jan 2021


  • Case study
  • Framework conditions
  • Industrial symbiosis
  • Maabjerg BioEnergy
  • Policy review

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