The Circular Economy in Action: Industrial Ecosystems Implementing Circularity at Commercial Scale

Organizers: Arlan Peters, Novozymes; Tom Burns, Novozymes

A growing number of scientists, policy makers, designers and corporations recognize that in order to have more sustainable production and consumption, we need to move from conventional linear systems of “take, make, waste” to a circular system of production and consumption.

Discussions about circular economy can seem abstract and disconnected from current reality or refer to examples that have limited scale and impact. There are however many examples of industrial ecosystems, developed over decades and operating at commercial scale that are currently realizing significant benefits for the environment and society. These systems can be centrally planned or develop organically. They optimize biological and technical nutrients and provide numerous examples of how chemistry and engineering can be applied to utilize waste streams from one entity as feedstocks for another.

In this symposium we will delve into the details of these examples starting with Kalundborg, Denmark, one of the most developed industrial ecosystems in the world. Through a spectrum of speaker presentations, we will explore the history, details of the partnerships, results, learnings, and future plans of the Kalundborg Industrial Symbiosis. We will survey other large-scale models of industrial symbiosis, looking for similarities and differences in origins and management. We will examine how elements of ecosystem thinking are being implemented via nascent bilateral and multilateral agreements between companies and what challenges may exist in a B2B vs B2C context.

Attendees to this symposium will gain a better understanding of existing industrial ecosystems and a better sense of how these models can be replicated and expanded to create more circular and sustainable production.