Business & the Environment Working Together in Europe

17 04 2007

So how might business in the future rethink how they can reduce costs and grow revenue in sustainable ways? You need only to examine what is going on in Kalundborg, Denmark to see a future where six local processing companies, one waste handling company and the Municipality of Kalundborg work together to help one another improve efficiencies and profits.

Its strategy is called “Symbiosis” based on the principles of “The Natural Step” presented in a previous post.

As its website for this project says (Industrial Symbiosis is under Social Responsibility to the right of this post),

  • “The philosophy behind this Symbiosis is that the six companies: Energy E2 Asnæs Power Station, the plasterboard factory BPB Gyproc A/S, the pharmaceutical plant Novo Nordisk A/S, the enzyme producer Novozymes A/S, the oil refinery Statoil A/S, Bioteknisk Jordrens Soilrem A/S as well as the waste company Noveren I/S and Kalundborg Municipality – exploit each other’s residual or by-products on a commercial basis.” One company’s by-product becomes an important resource to one or several of the other companies. The outcome is reduced consumption of resources and a significant reduction in environmental strain. The collaborating partners also benefit financially from the co-operation because the individual agreement within the Symbiosis is based on commercial principles.

The results? This is just a few of those recorded:

  • Reduced the overall consumption by 25% by recycling the water and by letting it circulate between the individual Symbiosis partners. A total of 1.9 mio cubic metres of ground water and 1 mio cubic metres of surface water are saved on a yearly basis.

  • Reduced oil consumption by 20,000 tonnes per year, corresponding to a 380-tonne reduction of sulphur dioxide outlet on a yearly basis.

  • 80,000 tonnes of Ash waste taken from Asnæs Power Station are used in the construction and cement industries for the manufacturing of cement or the extraction of nickel and vanadium

In 2005, the world’s first nationwide “Symbiosis” strategy was launched in Britain. The National Industrial Symbiosis Programme (NISP- site link is to the right too) is at the forefront of industrial symbiosis thinking and practice worldwide. By bringing together companies of all sizes from all business sectors, NISP enables thousands of businesses to change how they practice and become more efficient with the disposal of waste resources.

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