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Assessing the geographical aspects of regional industrial symbiosis for European regions

Panel: 2. Sustainable production towards a circular economy

Reza Vahidzadeh, Università degli studi di Brescia, Italy
Giorgio Bertanza, Università degli studi di Brescia, Italy
Mentore Vaccari, Università degli studi di Brescia, Italy
Silvia Sbaffoni, ENEA (Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development) - Sustainability Department- Research Centre Casaccia, Italy


In industrial symbiosis (IS), two or more dissimilar industrial processes exchange their non-product residues as resources (material and energy) in a collective approach for increasing the production efficiency and minimization of emissions and wastes in the whole system. This is regarded as an innovative solution in the movement from linear toward circular economy. Various models for industrial symbiosis has been introduced to the industrial ecology discussions, based on different degrees of centralization in the collaboration networks. Industrial symbiosis at regional scale is usually considered as a planned (or facilitated) approach which relies on the central role of an organization for connecting the network members (nodes) by regulation, providing information and incentives. While geographical proximity and system boundaries were considered as crucial factors in formation of industrial symbiosis in the earlier studies, more recent definitions pay less attention to such features.

The hypothesis of this research is that the geographical (contextual) conditions can result in different categories of regional symbiotic networks. These features should be included in the process of planning or evaluation of possible scenarios prior to undertaking practical steps toward developing regional platforms or defining the networking programs.

This study applies social network analysis (SNA) in combination with territorial analyses for European regions with different geographical features. Published documents about 47 regional industrial symbiosis projects were analysed this way. While the comparative studies between pairs of regions were common in IS literature, the impacts of geographical dependencies on such comparisons have been rarely considered. Based on this mapping activity 3 different arrangements were identified for regional symbiosis networks with energy exchanges, i.e. Centralized Closed Systems, Decentralized Closed Systems, and Semi-centralized open systems.

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