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Belgian stakeholders discussed on the benefits and challenges of Industrial Symbiosis at the online CircLean Open Innovation Workshop

On 31 May 2022, around 50 stakeholders actively participated online for the CircLean Open Innovation Workshop in Brussels, Belgium. The workshop was organised by the consortium led by Technopolis Group who is running the CircLean Secretariat on behalf of the European Commission. The event became possible thanks to the support of the regional stakeholders VITO and OVAM.

The representative from the European Commission (DG GROW), Mr. Anestis Filopoulos stressed the importance of the European Green Deal and the EU industrial Strategy to unlock the potential of industrial symbiosis (IS) as an innovative business model. At the EU level, industrial symbiosis is being pursued through the CircLean project which pushes further the development of a European industry-led monitoring and reporting system​ for IS transactions. The participants had the opportunity to discover the network’s toolbox which includes the self-assessment module and the matching tool.  

The roundtable discussion engaged stakeholders in discussions on hindering and success factors for IS development. Key barriers that industries are facing with regards their engagement in IS include investment costs, regulatory gaps, technological barriers and outdated infrastructure as well as lack of knowledge of resources and waste streams generated by others. Regulatory uncertainty related to the status of secondary materials (waste versus product) was mentioned as one of the major issues discouraging companies from engaging in IS endeavours. Therefore, it was recognised that there is a need to harmonise interpretation of waste regulation and the application of the concepts of By-Product and ‘End of Waste’ across Member States. 

On the other hand, it was acknowledged that the role of facilitation is crucial to address barriers in IS. There are already positive steps and examples in Belgium in this area, such as the smart industrial approach in Flanders with its key elements including the online symbiosis platform, dedicated team and technical assistance provided to companies. 

Participants agreed that support for IS provided to companies in Belgium at different levels needs to continue. In particular, companies have the opportunity to benefit from training on IS offered by various initiatives such as Circular Wallonia. Moreover, developing IS is a complex process which depends on building the right partnerships and synergies, therefore an inclusive approach is recommended 

There are numerous inspiring examples of local industrial initiatives and projects in Belgium taking place across different sectors. One of these is Ecluse project which is about maximising the energy vaporisation from the waste treatment facility delivering process steam and heat to industrial companies in a port area. The presentation of Hubs4Circularity demonstrated that IS has the potential to bring a wide range of benefits to regions such as boosting economic growth, investments in innovation, cost-saving across industrial processes, etc. Additionally, the experience of an IS project in the port of Antwerp showcased how IS can be a solution for more sustainable production of industrial water from recycled and brackish (dock)water. Lastly, POM West Flanders demonstrated a comprehensive approach in fostering the cooperation between companies for improving materials and waste management.  

Read about the other CircLean Open Innovation Workshops:  

  • CircLean Open Innovation Workshop in Poland here 
  • CircLean Open Innovation Workshop in Hungary here
  • CircLean Open Innovation Workshop in Finland here 
  • CircLean Open Innovation Workshop in Spain here

About the Project:

CircLean is an EU-funded project establishing an EU-wide, industry-led network to capture the benefits of industrial symbiosis (IS) to business and the economy. Read more about the project here.

The CircLean network offers the opportunity to engage in IS transactions with other companies. If you would like to become a member of the network, please read more here and get in touch with the CircLean Secretariat at circlean.project@technopolis-group.com.  

The next CircLean Open Innovation Workshop will be held in Rotterdam in The Netherlands on the 8th of September 2022.