Barriers to Industrial Symbiosis: Insights from the Use of a Maturity Grid

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Journal Article
Journal of Industrial Ecology, 2015, 19 (1), pp. 141 - 153
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© 2014 by Yale University. Summary: The concept of industrial symbiosis (IS) over the last 20 years has become a well-recognized approach for environmental improvements at the regional level. Many technical solutions for waste and by-product material, water, and energy reuse between neighboring industries (so-called synergies) have been discovered and applied in the IS examples from all over the world. However, the potential for uptake of new synergies in the regions is often limited by a range of nontechnical barriers. These barriers include environmental regulation, lack of cooperation and trust between industries in the area, economic barriers, and lack of information sharing. Although several approaches to help identify and overcome some of the nontechnical barriers were examined, no methodology was found that systematically assessed and tracked the barriers to guide the progress of IS development. This article presents a new tool-IS maturity grid-to tackle this issue in the regional IS studies. The tool helps monitor and assess the level of regional industrial collaboration and also indicates a potential path for further improvements and development in an industrial region, depending on where that region currently lies in the grid. The application of the developed tool to the Gladstone industrial region of Queensland, Australia, is presented in the article. It showed that Gladstone is at the third (active) stage of five stages of maturity, with cooperation and trust among industries the strongest characteristic and information barriers the characteristic for greatest improvement.
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