CSF101 Kalundborg Symbiosis activity

This topic relates to the activity on http://course.oeru.org/csf101/learning-pathways/sustainability-is-entirely-possible/kalundborg-symbiosis/. After watching the video on that page, comment on the following questions:

  • What do you see as the core elements that have underpinned the development and success of the Kalundborg Symbiosis initiative?
  • What can we learn from this?
  • What do you think it would take to gain widespread adoption of this sort of industrial design philosophy?
  • What are the barriers, and how might they be overcome?
  • What examples are you aware of where this sort of industrial design is already happening?

In the case of production systems which utilse physical products as inputs (and corresponding by-products which are physical) its is arguably easier to analyse the system, for example to identify waste products.

In the case of systems which utilise digital non-rivalrous inputs (i.e. where the consumption of one user does not restrict the consumption by another user) it becomes harder to understand and analyse the system. So for example, digital knowledge which is published without restrictions of reuse could be used as inputs by multiple systems - hence more sustainable. In practice, the traditional industrial model of generating economic value from digital knowledge is to generate false scarcity by applying economic restrictions of reuse by applying, for example, copyright restricts for downstream reuse. In other words, the physical properties of the input resource do not restrict the use of the same resource, but artificial mechanisms are used to generate economic advantage.

On reflection, my take away from thinking about Kalundborg symbiosis is that natural systems do not apply artificial mechanisms to regulate the system. As we move deeper into the 21st century, organisations need to think carefully about reducing artificial mechanisms for generating advantage to improve efficiency and avoiding waste of scarce human resources. Savings we generate through smarter use of human resources, could be better applied to generating sustainable value for all.

I would say that the core elements behind this initiative are:

  • a willingness to collaborate,
  • a desire to work smarter, and
  • the drive to make a difference.

The video tells us that the companies involved have boosted their profits, because this is a sound business model, not just a sound environmental one. How is this the first time I’ve ever heard of the Kalundborg Symbiosis?!

It seems to make so much sense to me that it’s better for everyone if business and industry adopt a similar approach. Is it maybe a focus on short-term costs (and/or fear of change) which blocks this type of thinking? I would have to say that I am not aware of anywhere where this is already happening. Widespread adoption of this sort of industrial design philosophy would need widespread education and training, to raise awareness and to demonstrate that it can really work!

I like Mackiwg’s comment that “natural systems do not apply artificial mechanisms to regulate themselves” (the video gives us the example of a leaf falling from a tree and naturally becoming part of the soil). That’s the point - too many control mechanisms; not enough collaboration.

Kalundborg Industrial Symbiosis Core Elements:
*Identify Waste
*Identify and collaborate with a consumer/processer of the waste. The waste can either be used directly as a raw resource (eg. heat), or upcycled as a raw input in a system to create a higher value product (eg. sulfur dioxide for gypsum production).
*Proximity for resource exchange: Affects price of transport. Localised industrial park area facilitates efficient exchange of waste.

What can we learn from this?
Think about the entire lifecycle of resources. See where a ‘waste’ can fit into another products lifecycle. There is no planet B - lets learn to optimise the finite resources that are here. Also, we need to change our perspective of what waste is. The Kalundborg model shows us that even sludge can be viewed as a resource (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kalundborg_Eco-industrial_Park#Material_Exchanges).
Waste-sharing within a community is a way to encourage utilisation of the resources, instead of just adding to the landfill problem. Also, complementary specialisation of skills is often important in communities. Notice it is not always cost effective, or practical for the one company to process all its waste. Complementary industries may be better equipped for processing the particular material.Thus, identifying waste materials, and making them available to anyone to use before it reaches the landfill is a key sustainability strategy.

What do I think it would take to gain widespread adoption of this sort of design philosophy?
*Open and honest communication between members of industry about waste and sharing.
*Willingness and ability to be part of the cooperative scheme
*Commitment and funds to initiate and establish the necessary waste resource exchange channels (eg. pipes, truck delivery etc.).

What are the barriers, and how might they be overcome?

  • The initial cost of setting up the exchanges - laying pipes, or establish new truck loading bay etc. The new exchanges will save money in the long run, so may help with a loan application, or else liquidate some assets, or invest profit to fund it.
    *The cost of transport and exchange of waste. Water or gases will need pipes etc., solid materials trucked? Optimise the efficiency of transport.

What examples am I aware of?
None personally, however the paper “Uncovering” Industrial Symbiosis, by Marian R Chertow (Journal of Industrial Ecology, Vol. 11, No. 1, 2007) describes many.
The Guitang Group utilises products around sugar refining. The Kwinana Industrial area in Western Australia involves mineral processing industries.

Its a great idea thats come of time given it is both environmentally beneficial and sound business. The core elements i see are:

  • Belief in the potential to achieve this healthy collaboration and the willingness to activate the ideas.
  • Communication and a sharing ethic
  • Shared research education and training.
    We should be inspired by it.
    It would take all of the above.
    Barriers have been identified also multiple other factors relating to costs and consideration of type of material, toxicity etc., transportation, resources.
    I am not aware of any examples.

Kalundborg Industrial Sybiosis

Core Elements

• The ability to adapt (upskill) waste products in to a viable raw material
• Working relationships that have been built up over decades, with the understanding that the success of one business is not detrimental to the others, but beneficial.
• Organic nature of its development
• Variety of companies
• The competitive edge these companies receive in their markets due to lower costs.
• Stability of suppliers and consumers.

What can we learn from this?

That working together to utilise the most of our resources is not only a step in the right direction in terms of sustainability. But it is also a sound business decision. That being said, finding enough complimentary businesses in a concentrated area is not an easy task.

One man’s trash is another man’ treasure. We create so much needless waste (think Sweden’s recycling movement as an example we could follow) let alone the initiatives at KIS.

Smart thinking. Long term analysis and strategic planning. The fact that what we start here has vibrations for generations. That this will not come quickly, or smoothly.

What do you think it would take to gain widespread adoption of this sort of industrial design philosophy?

Successful relatable examples. The people I work with are an adaptable bunch. But they would first need to witness such a thing.

What are the barriers, and how might they be overcome?

• Development funds
• Investment
• A willingness to put individual goals aside and work together.
• Trust between partners.
• Location of complimentary business in an already built up area.
• Information/education

What examples are you aware of where this sort of industrial design is already happening?

I wasn’t aware of anything like this before I read about the KIS. But have identified some industrial areas that might viable.
South Korea

  • For me the core elements that underpinned the succeess of Kalundborg industrial symbiosis are the awareness and initiation of private groups, the knwoledge that they have, the budget in coming up with this system, the cooperation of the public, private entity and the government unit and last but not the least their passion to get it going.

  • A learning that we can get from this is through awareness, mutual agreement, cooperation from everyone,reaching a common goal is very much possible.

  • It will take diffenitely time, drive, budget, a proper knowledge on how to implement this industrial design.

  • Not all attainments such as this undergone no waves, possible barriers may be the initial funds of coming up this project, technical failures, oulooks may differ along the way but they are totaly driven in reaching their goal.

  • Im not aware of any industrial design concept closer to the Kalundborg Symbiosis, which is the first full realization of industrial symbiosis.