Good practice

Industrial symbiosis ecosystem in Denmark

Industrial symbiosis ecosystem in Denmark
© vege, image #170160350, 2017, source:
Materials, Waste, Carbon
All manufacturing industries
Resource savings: Energy:
Biogas is made out of yeast slurry from the production of insulin
Resource savings: Raw material:
Recycling of 150 000 tonnes of gypsum from desulphurisation of flue gas (SO2) replaces import of natural gypsum (CaSO4)
Resource savings: Water:
3 million m3 of water saved through recycling and reuse
Co2 emission reduction:
Yearly CO2 emissions have been reduced by 275 000 tonnes
Premises and operation areas:
Production processes, Supply operations, Waste and recycling
Size of company:
Micro (less than 10), Small (less than 50), Medium (less than 250)
Advancement in applying resource efficiency measures:
Intermediate, Advanced

The human factor

  • Working together for a common good is at the heart of symbiotic relationships in businesses too
  • Long-term success thanks to the commitment of the companies and all staff involved 

The Kalundborg Symbiosis is an industrial ecosystem located in Denmark, where the residual product of one enterprise is used as a resource by another enterprise, in a closed cycle. This symbiosis is a local collaboration between public and private enterprises which buy and sell residual products, resulting in mutual economic and environmental benefits.

The Kalundborg Symbiosis came into being as a result of conversations between a few enterprise managers from the Kalundborg region (Denmark) in the 1960s and 1970s. Since then, the industrial symbiosis has developed based on good collaboration between employees of the businesses involved.

Key benefits

In the development and running of the Kalundborg Symbiosis, the most important element has been healthy communication and good cooperation between the participants. At its roots, the symbiosis was founded on human relationships and fruitful collaboration between the employees who have made the arrangement so successful.

Measures such as recycling and re-using materials and water and generating biogas in one plant from slurry produced in another demonstrate how the symbiosis works. Overall, the relationship delivers yearly CO2 emissions savings of an estimated 275 000 tonnes.

The continuous development of the Kalundborg Symbiosis has been possible because its benefits have grown yearly, both economically, culturally and environmentally.

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