The Potential of Industrial Symbiosis: Case Analysis and Main Drivers and Barriers to Its Implementation

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

80 Citations (Scopus)
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Industrial symbiosis, which is characterised mainly by the reuse of waste from one company as raw material by another, has been applied worldwide with recognised environmental, economic, and social benefits. However, the potential for industrial symbiosis is not exhausted in existing cases, and there is still a wide range of opportunities for its application. Through a comprehensive literature review, this article aims to compile and analyse studies that focus on potential industrial symbiosis in real contexts, to highlight the margin of optimisation that is not being used. The cases reported in the publications identified here were characterised and analysed according to geographic location, type of economic activity, waste/by-products, main benefits, and the methods employed in the studies. From this analysis, we conclude that there is great potential for applications involving industrial symbiosis throughout the world, and especially in Europe, corresponding to 53% of the total cases analysed. Manufacturing stood out as the sector with the highest potential for establishing symbiosis relationships, and the most common types of waste streams in potential networks were organic, plastic and rubber, wood, and metallic materials. This article also discusses the main drivers and barriers to realising the potential of industrial symbiosis. The diversity of industries, geographical proximity, facilitating entities and legislation, plans, and policies are shown to be the main drivers.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7095
Issue number24
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2019


  • Circular economy
  • Eco-industrial parks
  • Industrial symbiosis
  • Potential industrial symbiosis
  • Sustainability


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