September 11, 2011:
Thousands of new jobs, larger profits for industry and a big
reduction in society’s wastes are among the benefits of a
major British industrial project that will be one of the highlights
at the CleanUp 2011 conference in Adelaide tomorrow.
In five years, the UK government-funded National Industrial
Symbiosis Programme (NISP) has reduced costs for industry by $150
million, saved and created eight thousand jobs, diverted seven
million tonnes of waste from landfills, cut CO2 emissions by six
million tonnes and saved nine million tonnes of water and other
“The concept of ‘industrial symbiosis’ is to
connect traditionally separate industries into a network to find
outlets for resources, including materials, energy, water,
expertise and more,” says Mr Gary Foster, the Regional
Director of NISP and Managing Consultant in URS Scott Wilson Ltd,
“Traditionally, natural resources go through a straight
pathway in manufacturing – they either come out in the form
of products, or as waste. Also most resources, once used, are
destined to end up in landfills, which can be unsustainable for the
business, for society and for the environment.
“In order to achieve a low-carbon, sustainable economy, we
need a more circular pathway, which includes turning waste from
industry A into a resource for industry B, and creating more loops
between different sectors,” Mr Foster said.
Bringing together industries such as manufacturing, construction,
utilities, hospitality, transport, agriculture and forestry, the
programme offers commercial benefits to business worldwide, such as
cutting waste disposal costs and potentially gaining carbon
One example of symbiosis, Mr Foster says, is a facilitated
collaboration between a leading international producer of nitrogen
products and a fruit and tomato grower, to build the largest
greenhouse in the UK.
“The company, Terra Nitrogen, was looking for alternative
ways to use its by-products, and they teamed up with horticultural
firm John Baarada Ltd. Since then, 12,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide
from Terra Nitrogen’s manufacturing plant have been used to
grow over 300,000 tomato plants each year. Steam from the site was
also used to heat the greenhouses.
“Terra also supplies electricity to the greenhouses, ensuring
that Baarda can produce tomatoes throughout the winter, which
boosts Britain’s agricultural production.”
Providing alternative pathways for waste can also benefit the
country’s economy, he adds: “When businesses can make
money from selling their waste instead of paying to discard it,
more jobs can be kept within the company. Also, having new ways to
process or transport the waste can create more work.”
NISP organises workshops regularly to bring different sectors
together. It has built a national database for companies to list
their items managed by specialists who have a background in
industry to classify the material appropriately.
“People have been talking about re-using waste as resources
for years, but the challenge lies in implementing it. You
can’t just set up a database and expect industries to connect
with each other – you have to get them in a room to discuss
their needs, because there are often many solutions to one
problem,” he says.
“In a room of 40 companies, we can come up with as many as
300 different matches for their resources, waste or expertise. To
date, in partnership with the Waste Management Association of
Australia (WMAA), we have held five workshops in Australia, and
have made around 450 connections between different companies.
“Australia has immense potential to make good use of this
strategy, because there are big networks of industries committed to
helping the nation to reduce waste, such as Zero Waste South
Australia and Planet Ark,” he concludes.
The Managing Director of CRC CARE, Professor Ravi Naidu, said that
the CRC was already working on industrial symbiosis solutions to
clean up Australia’s industrial waste streams and encourage
different industries to find ways to make economic use of one
Mr Foster will deliver his presentation at 8.50am, 12 September,
CleanUp 2011 incorporates the 6th International Workshop on
Chemical Bioavailability in the Terrestrial Environment (7–9
September 2011) and the 4th International Contaminated Site
Remediation Conference (11–15 September 2011). It is hosted
by the CRC for Contamination Assessment and Remediation of the
Environment (CRC CARE).
CleanUp 2011 is being held at the Hilton Adelaide hotel in
Adelaide, South Australia.
Mr Gary Foster, Regional Director (UK), NISP, + 44 7825
Prof. Ravi Naidu, Managing Director, CRC CARE, 08 8302 5041 or 0407
Meredith Loxton, Acting Communications Manager, CRC CARE, 08 8302
3925 or 0429 779 228
Sharmin Patard, Communications Officer, CRC CARE, 0437 917 352