March Green Guru Spotlight: Industrial Ecology

Kalundborg Industrial Ecology Diagram
Source: Ecodecision, Spring 1996: 20

Everyone has heard of the saying, one person’s waste is another’s treasure. But Kalundborg in Denmark is a mind-boggling example, which includes exchanges between an oil refinery, a gyproc factory, a pharmaceutical firm, a fish farm, a cement factory, a coal-fired electrical power station, local farmers, the municipality of Kalundborg…and the list keeps growing! You can read more about this spontaneous industrial ecology poster child here and also in this paper

Closer to home, the US Business Council for Sustainable Development (USBCSD) has helped companies, governments and communities with its By-Product Synergy (BPS) Project Process, which matches typically “under-valued waste or by-product streams from one facility with potential users at another facility to create new revenues or savings with potential social and environmental benefits.”  For example, two companies identified a BPS opportunity involving filter cake from three facilities of Company A, to be used by Company B for brick colorant, which displaces the need for use of virgin brick colorant material. Ordinarily, the filter cake would be disposed in a landfill. The establishment of this network reduces Company B’s virgin brick colorant material purchasing costs, reduces Company A’s disposal costs and preserves the city’s landfill capacity.

BPS networks currently exist in Chicago, Ohio, Houston, Seattle and other places in the US. But not Silicon Valley! Read more about By-Product Synergy networks here.  And email if you would like to work on exploring BPS network opportunities in Silicon Valley.


Green Guru: Suparna Vashisht, March 2013


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