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Roundtable Event by Policy Connect APMG and UKMSN+ Manufacturing Industrial Symbiosis

With great support from All-Party Parliamentary Manufacturing Group (APMG) of Policy Connect, we ran an in-person roundtable on Manufacturing Symbiosis at the Parliament (Portcullis House) on the 26th of April 2022. We were joined by representatives from the Government, manufacturing and circular economy accelerators, academics with expertise and track record in industrial symbiosis-related projects, the business community, as well as industry leaders from the waste management, materials production and manufacturing consultancy.

Industrial symbiosis is an important part of circular economy and as we accelerate our race to net zero, resource efficiency becomes and increasingly mechanism by which the manufacturing sector can reduce its carbon consumption. An industrial symbiosis approach looks beyond the traditional resource transactions and aims to create cross sectoral linkages, supporting the growth of skills and innovation in addition to keeping resources in productive use for longer. This roundtable explored how this is being developed across the UK and internationally.

The session was chaired by Dr Alan Whitehead MP, with presentations and expertise shared by the key speakers:

  • Dr Luciano Batista, Senior Lecturer in Operations Management, Project Lead for UK Manufacturing Symbiosis Network Plus (UKMSN+) and Director of the Research Centre for Circular Economy and Advanced Sustainability (CEAS), Aston University

  • Peter Laybourn, Chief Executive and Founder of International Synergies Ltd

  • Nicky Cunningham, Policy Lead, UKRI National Interdisciplinary Circular Economy Research Hub (NICER)

  • Amy Peace, Circular Economy Lead, Innovate UK

The event also marked 20 years since the launch of the National Industrial Symbiosis Programme (NISP), which was led by International Synergies Ltd. NISP was the world’s first national industrial symbiosis initiative and has received global acknowledgements. In spite of its excellent results - e.g. reducing carbon emissions by 42 million tonnes, generating £1 billion in new sales, diverting 47 million tonnes of industrial waste from landfill - the programme has not received the deserved attention and could have been easily replicated and continued in the UK. Meanwhile, motivated by the climate change problem, other countries adopted the initiatives, with a missed opportunity for the UK to keep its leading position in the field. The audience felt that UK can and should use the net zero momentum to boost the facilitation of manufacturing industrial symbiosis initiatives.

The roundtable was a success and we would like to keep the conversation open, so please reach out if you want to contribute and help us find solutions for the following dilemmas:

  1. How important could industrial symbiosis be to industry in terms of cost reduction, GHG reduction, resource security/scarcity, onshoring etc.?

  2. Which UK policies and regulations are currently supporting (or blocking) this type of activity in the UK?

  3. What does industry need to deliver industrial symbiosis and who should provide it? [database, information, technical advice, facilitation etc].

  4. Is there enough industry representation? Which institutions need to lead on industrial symbiosis and who is best placed to deliver the support industry requires?

Photos provided by Policy Connect ©


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