Birmingham Industrial Symbiosis | Knowledge Hub | Circle Lab
Policy case
Birmingham Industrial Symbiosis
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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 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 as inputs into the production processes of other companies.

Over this period some of the ‘physical’ manifestations of these actions in favour of industrial symbiosis, have resulted in different projects: the creation of the Tyseley Environmental Enterprise Zone (TEEZ); the Big City Plan (combining industrial symbiosis with city planning): a 20-year city centre master plan, a vision encouraging and supporting Birmingham’s continuing transformation into a world class city centre. It covers every aspect of the built environment, including sustainable development and efforts to address the impact of climate change as part of the future transformation of the city centre; an energy park and the European Bioenergy Research Institute.

Outcome

The BCC’s long-term support of industrial symbiosis has had real impact on European policy and recommendations, such as the European waste framework directive, or, more recently, the circular economy package. But more importantly, the BCC’s efforts impacted the city and surrounding area. Indeed, the Industrial symbiosis approach has been an excellent policy and strategic instrument that 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

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