A comprehensive review of industrial symbiosis

Angela Neves, Radu Godina, Susana G. Azevedo, João C. O. Matias

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

83 Citations (Scopus)


Industrial symbiosis, which allows entities and companies that traditionally be separated, to cooperate among them in the sharing of resources, contributes to the increase of sustainability with environmental, economic and social benefits. Examples of industrial symbiosis have grown over the years with increasing geographic dispersion. Thus, through a comprehensive review of previous studies, this work aims to trace the trend of industrial symbiosis research and to map the existing case studies around the world, with a critical analysis of its impact. The analysis of the 584 selected publications allowed tracing the evolution of these according to their content and the type of article, as well as its distribution by journals. Based on the literature review, the main lines for research in industrial symbiosis are assessed, as well as an updated study of the published case studies is provided with emphasis on the location, type of industry and employed methodologies. Several challenges are then identified for future research. The results reveal the number of articles on industrial symbiosis has greatly increased since 2007 and China is the country with the largest number of publications and cases of industrial symbiosis, followed by the United States. The methods for quantifying impacts and analysing industrial symbiosis networks were the most widely used. The analysis of the published case studies allowed an overview of the industrial symbiosis in the world and showed that the potential for application is enormous, both in developed countries and in countries with developing economies, and although the most present economic activities in the synergies are associated with the manufacturing sector, the possibilities of industrial symbiosis are not restricted to these activities nor to the number of entities involved. The symbioses between industry and the surrounding community also have great potential for development with numerous advantages for both parties.

Original languageEnglish
Article number119113
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Early online date4 Nov 2019
Publication statusPublished - 20 Feb 2020


  • Case study
  • Circular economy
  • Industrial and urban symbiosis
  • Industrial symbiosis
  • Sustainability


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