Effective industrial symbiosis

© Kalundborg

Kalundborg Symbiosis Effective industrial symbiosis

At Kalundborg Symbiosis, public and private companies buy and sell waste from each other in a closed cycle of industrial production. Driven by increased costs of materials and energy for businesses, exchanges between companies are initially assessed on the basis of economic gains in saving of resources or money.

Kalundborg Symbiosis is the world’s first well-functioning example of industrial symbiosis and, within the academic discipline of industrial ecology, has become a textbook example of effective resource saving and cycling of materials in industrial production.

Industrial symbiosis can be defined as the exchange of materials or waste streams between companies, so that one company’s waste becomes another company’s raw materials. At Kalundborg Symbiosis, public and private companies buy and sell waste from each other in a closed cycle of industrial production. A variety of by products are traded, such as steam, ash, gas, heat, sludge, and others that can be physically transported from one company to another.

© Kalundborg Symbiosis
© Kalundborg Symbiosis

3 million cubic metres of water saved through recycling and reuse

The incentive structure of Kalundborg Symbiosis is driven by resource scarcity, with increased costs of materials and energy for businesses being the primary basis for a shift in the method of production. Incentivisation is based on the individual project’s commercial value, and any exchange between companies are initially assessed and established on the basis of economic gain in a saving of resources or money. The environmental benefits of this relationship are apparent, and have become a key priority, but the primary motivation in establishing the symbiotic relationships in Kalundborg has economic benefit for participating businesses.

Kalundborg Symbiosis has developed gradually over time. From the earliest cooperation between Kalundborg Municipality and Statoil (then Esso) for the supply of water to the extension of Statoil’s production in 1961, to a real symbiotic relationship that was established in 1972. Since then, companies have continuously implemented symbiotic practicies, and today there are more than 30 exchanges of water, energy and other by-products between Kalundborg Municipality and eight other companies: Novo Nordisk, Novozymes, DONGEnergy, RGS90, Statoil, Gyproc, Kalundborg Supply and KaraNoveren. In addition, a number of agricultural companies have an interest in this type of industrial symbiosis, as purchasers of fertiliser products and waste heat.

The Kalundborg network
The Kalundborg network

150,000 tons of yeast replaces 70% of soy protein in traditional feed mix for more than 800,000 pigs.

Cooperation between companies in Kalundborg Symbiosis has occurred from the bottom-up, initiated by the companies themselves with continuous support from the Kalundborg Municipality. The close physical proximity of the companies and exchange of resources has resulted in a collaborative mindset among the partners, as they have actively chosen communication, openness and cooperation. This extends beyond the economic benefits involved with the transfer of waste products, surplus heat and water, and these very different companies see the potential of joint-problem solving and development for the area, for example with a recent project to move towards renewable energy sources for Kalundborg.

For further information visit the Kalundborg Symbiosis website.