Issue Brief
Measuring Waste Reduction, Reuse and Recycling through Industrial Symbiosis
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Measuring Waste Reduction, Reuse and Recycling through Industrial Symbiosis

Ver. 1, March 2013 Series:
C. Visvanathan

Most industrial operations are linear processes in which raw materials are processed into products, with waste as a by-product. However, waste is also generated at the time of raw material extraction, during processing, and ultimately at the end-of-life stage of a product. To minimise, reutilise or recycle waste at each stage, industrial operations can be reconfigured though industrial symbiosis (IS), in which waste produced from one industry is reutilised by another as a raw material. Industrial symbiosis supports resource efficiency in two ways: Cleaner Production (application of techniques and technologies, and management strategies that reduce the waste generated from industrial operations) and Waste Exchange Programmes (exchange of one waste with another resource or raw material). Thus, the benefits of industrial symbiosis are twofold; economic, by lowering the cost of operations and waste disposal, and environmental, via pollution (waste) abatement. There are many concepts involved in IS; however, basic indicators of a successful IS are: 1) reduction in the waste generated from industrial operations, 2) Ratio of recycled materials used in raw material through waste exchanges, 3) Reduction in the amount of industrial waste landfilled, and 4) Reduction in the cost of waste treatment and disposal borne by industry.