Since 2002, Birmingham city council (BCC) has had a strong history of supporting and promoting industrial symbiosis, which is a principal pillar of the circular economy.
Industrial symbiosis has consistently initiated and supported multiple projects, together with stakeholders such as the local, world-leading SME International Synergies Ltd, the city’s universities and business community, enabling BCC to take this vital element of the circular economy across the world. Industrial symbiosis involves the facilitation of commercial transactions or activities - synergies - of using waste materials or by-products such as energy, water or other resources generated by companies and integrating them into the production processes of other companies.
BCC has also hosted delegations - industrial symbiosis ‘tourists’ - from at least 25 countries including Turkey, Egypt and China.
It has been a challenge to introduce this new concept to a range of stakeholders within the council and the business community of the city and beyond.
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The Industrial symbiosis approach has contributed to multiple city aims including:
- reduction in carbon emissions; in the Tyseley Environmental Enterprise Zone (TEEZ) project for example, there is, up to date, already 1.8 million tons of carbon-dioxide reduction
- reduction in industrial waste to landfill
- job creation; the TEEZ project already created more than three thousand jobs
- demand pull on innovation (particularly engaging local universities)
- supporting the city’s SMEs and micros who suffer from the market failure of ‘time poverty’
- identifying opportunities for inward investment
- identifying opportunities for the export of clean and green technologies
- regeneration of industrial parks
- engaging SMEs and entrepreneurs.