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Morphogenesis of Industrial Symbiotic Networks

Erika Džajić Uršič

The study deals with Industrial Symbiosis (IS), a term used to describe a network of diverse organizations that make use of different by-products to improve their facility to achieve common goals, improve environmental conditions or improve business and technical processes. Industrial symbiosis is understood as a technological material as well as a social relationship between so-called social actors, which are involved in the exchange of secondary resources.

The author proposes a model for the evaluation of the possibilities to establish such industrial symbiosis with a study benchmark of seven industrial symbiotic examples used to build a qualitative multi-criteria decision model for the evaluation of the industrial symbiotic network model. With the data obtained from the best-known industrial symbiotic cases in the world, the author examines the importance of social actors’ involvement in industrial symbiosis both in their industrial and non-industrial technological processes.

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1 Introduction


The important nature of cost productivity, environmental safeguard, resource management, greenhouse gas emissions/reduction, and social considerations are imposing increasing pressure on the industrialized districts. Industrial symbiosis emerged as a collective, cooperative, and multi-industrial approach towards economic and environmental sustainability. Industrial symbiosis has been defined as bringing together »traditionally separate industries in a collective approach to competitive advantage involving the physical exchange of materials, energy, water and by-products« using Chertow’s definition (2000, 313−337). The positive economic effects are demonstrated as lower waste/by-product disposal costs, competitive advantages towards other firms, and a better reputation of the related firm that is also social actor. Firms hence participate in industrial symbiosis for the exchange of resources, such as by-products, materials, services, energy, etc., in the framework of closed and sustainable cycles. This cooperation contributes to the reduction of required input of materials and energy, as well as a decrease of the output in the form of waste. Furthermore, the low price of waste as a material, if compared with no waste materials, increases the economic effectiveness of individual organizations, which are recipients in the framework of industrial symbiotic networks. Open networks, on the other hand, allow entropy, which results in a loss of energy, poor utilization of materials, and consequently causes environmental damage (Chertow 2000, 2007).

The current study will analyse networks as parts of social fields in the industrial symbiosis, in which these networks help shape their topography. This will also have a more profound scientific effect, as...

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