Partnerships for urban industrial symbiosis

National initiative - Poland, Lithuania, Denmark, Germany and Sweden

SDG 9: Industry innovation and infrastructureSDG 11: Sustainable cities and communitiesSDG 17: Partnerships for the goals
Urban Baltic Industrial Symbiosis (UBIS) is a regional cooperation project financed by the European Regional Investment Fund, Interreg South Baltic. The project focuses on developing pilot cases of industrial symbiosis, learning about the industrial symbiosis concept and spreading knowledge in order to inspire new symbiosis sites in the South Baltic region.
Industrial symbiosis is the mutually beneficial exchange of waste and by-products between different parties. Based on ecological mutualism and nutrient flows within an ecosystem, industrial symbiosis requires collaboration between different stakeholders within a relatively small geographic proximity. Developing capacity and finding opportunities to develop cross-sectoral and public-private industrial symbiosis is an opportunity for both private and public companies to increase their profitability and competitiveness by reducing the cost of resources, while at the same time being substantially more environment-friendly by reducing the use of material and production of waste. As such, industrial symbiosis is a business model and method based on circular material flows and circular economy.
Skåne Energy Agency, a regional energy agency in the south of Sweden, and a department within the non-profit organisation Skåne Association of Local Authorities, is the lead partner of the UBIS project. Together with ten partners in five countries (Poland, Lithuania, Denmark, Germany and Sweden) the project developed tools and recommendations by learning from existing industrial symbiosis plants, project members that already have knowledge and experiences of industrial symbiosis, and from five pilot investments that are carried out as part of the project.

Trust, knowledge and procedures of cooperation are some challenges that have to be overcome when developing business models for industrial symbiosis that are both a profitable and resource efficient means of creating more circular economic flows. Trust concerns the fear of being too dependent on the resources of other actors in the symbiosis. There is a lack of knowledge on many levels, about the industrial symbiosis itself, the opportunities it presents and about legal implications. Procedures of cooperation refer to the need for building long-term relations, transparency and information sharing between the actors involved in the symbiosis, something that is often missing.

Good practices and solutions

The project is a good example of how to combine the experiences of already established industrial symbiosis sites and production systems, and how to use those to develop guidelines, recommendations and methods in order to support a greater expansion of circular economy through industrial symbiosis practices . It is also a good example of building cross-sectoral and regional partnerships to support the practical expansion and utilization of circular economy.

The UBIS project works directly with five pilot investments that serve as the testing ground for the project. These are:

• The City of Malmö, Sweden: The objective for the city of Malmö in the UBIS project is to develop a soft pilot planning tool. The aim is to map the industrial symbiosis streams, such as heat and cold, various materials in Malmö harbour for example, and digitalise into a GIS-layer. This will be a helpful tool in identifying opportunities and marketing the possibilities with industrial symbiosis.

• Kalundborg Utility, Denmark: Kalundborg Utility will complement the services already available to the industrial symbiosis in Kalundborg. This expansion includes the possibility to supply cost-effective surface water for production with an all-year-round constant temperature.

• Gdańsk University of Technology, Poland: The major task of the Gdańsk University of Technology will be to identify groups of enterprises suited for collaboration within an industrial symbiosis system in the Pomeranian region in Poland. A particulate task will be waste energy sharing among companies. For this purpose, a Spinning Fluids Reactor-based mobile system is proposed for low temperature heat recovery from various types of power generators.

• The municipality of Bjuv, Sweden: “Urban Health” by industrial symbiosis involves identification and analysis, city planning and implementation. By using the residual heat from local industries, the municipality can create new, healthy, and social environments for people in urban areas.

• The municipality of Silute, Lithuania: Silute will develop municipal waste storage by installing new infrastructure for collection of waste so that it can be recycled and get a second life as new raw material

Outcomes & Opportunities

Where the project stands at the moment, it has developed a series of publications with methods and recommendations on how to overcome some of the challenges involved in expanding and developing new sites for industrial symbiosis in the BSR. The project has developed:

• An Evaluation Tool to evaluate the potential for industrial symbiosis in a specific site.

• A Decision Tool to help stakeholder find opportunities and make sustainable decisions.

• A Business Model to help stakeholder find profitability and sustainability through industrial symbiosis solutions.

Related SDG targets:


Photo: © Mårten Björk/Unsplash


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Project: Circular Baltic 2030