Industrial Symbiosis and the Greening of the Industry in the UK: The Case of the National Industrial Symbiosis Programme
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Industrial Symbiosis is part of the emerging field of Industrial Ecology, a discipline that looks at natural ecosystems as models for the development of new industrial systems. As part of the recent efforts towards environmental sustainability, many scholars, policy-makers and organisations have turned to the concept for its promise of triple-bottom line benefits between social, environmental and economic performance. It is argued, however, that a certain level of disconnect exists between the conceptual framework of Industrial Symbiosis and its practical implementation. The National Industrial Symbiosis Programme in the UK represents one of the first cases of Industrial Symbiosis being undertaken on a national level, and as such, much interest has been raised as to its effectiveness, main drivers, political context and on the possibility of it being replicated in other nations. This research was undertaken as an exploratory case study in an effort to deepen the understanding of the programme and the practise of industrial symbiosis in the UK. The programme is described in light of the ‘’greening industry’’ context in the UK, including national waste strategies and legislation, policy instruments and supporting bodies. The programme is also described in view of Industrial Symbiosis and Industrial Ecology’s theoretical underpinnings in order to explore possible gaps and positive contributions derived from the programme that can enhance the study of the discipline. The study findings show that although the programme’s goals and practise of industrial symbiosis are generally in alignment with UK’s ‘’greening agenda’’, there are many limitations as to how much can be achieved in terms of increasing resource efficiency, reducing carbon emissions, and contributing to overall sustainability. Both supporting and limiting elements are discussed, and implications are assessed in terms of practise and theory.
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