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Experience and knowledge sharing on industrial symbiosis uptake during Portoroz‘s Open Innovation Workshop

On September 14, 2022, 37 stakeholders gathered in Portoroz (Slovenia) and online, for the 7th Open Innovation Workshop.   

The event was housed within the Technologies & Business Models for Circular Economy (TBMCE) 2022 International Conference. The conference provided an occasion to shed light on innovative industrial symbiosis (IS) businesses developed by entrepreneurs in Slovenia and share experiences and knowledge on hindering factors, and enablers in developing IS in Slovenia and the EU.  

The workshop started with an introduction by Nina Meglič, Coordinator of SRIP – Circular Economy. A speech by the European Commission representative, Anestis Filopoulos Project Officer at DG GROW, reminded the audience that the European Green Deal and the EU Industrial Strategy have both emphasised the potential of industrial symbiosis as an innovative business model. Filopoulos further highlighted that the EU’s objective in industrial symbiosis, as pursued through CircLean, are to facilitate, develop and expand IS uptake. Then, the CirLean toolbox was presented by James Woodcock, International Synergies Ltd., and two of its components were brought forward: the self-assessment module and the matching tool. The self-assessment module enables users to map their processes by identifying waste streams and other under-utilised resources that can be repurposed by companies in different sectors. The matching tool enables them to identify and pursue regional or cross-border IS transactions. 

The first half of the workshop was moderated by Nina Kovačič (SRIP – Circular Economy) and was dedicated to introducing examples of local industrial symbiosis initiatives and projects, including the successes and challenges. Presentations from four businesses were made: Marko Vrdoljak, from Reusable technologies, presented new products created from ‘scrapped’ lithium-ion batteries. Vesna Mujaković, represented Fonaterm, a company that takes textile waste to create new products such as insulation for house construction. Then, Jure Naglič from Ekstera, explained their company’s process of parallel-processing alloy rods to create pellets using metallugy. Finally Dr. Uroš Novak, from the National Institute of Chemistry / Scientists against plastics, discussed the setting up of several start-ups principally concerned with designing ‘from the beginning to end’, and applying innovation to reduce packaging. 

The second half of the workshop took the form of a roundtable to discuss the opportunities and challenges involved in the uptake of industrial symbiosis. It was moderated by Marjana Dermelj, SVRK. Speakers included: Irena Koželj, Ministry of Environment and Spatial Planning, Mag. Petra Kandus, CER, Peter Laybourn, from International Synergies Ltd, Mag. Darja Figelj, from Interzero and Mojca Žganec Metelko, from KNOF. A shared concern was noted regarding our pressing need to enable these types of initiatives. Hindering factors for IS development and enablers for IS stimulation were discussed such as:   regulatory uncertainties related to the status of secondary materials, the lower price of primary materials as opposed to secondary ones, and the lack of familiarity with industrial symbiosis and its benefits. Success factors identified were the fact that economic and regulatory instruments can indirectly drive IS and that IS diversifies the inputs which helps build supply chain resilience and improves efficiency. It was identified that to stimulate IS intakes, awareness should be raised of the associated benefits.  

Hear more about the take-aways from some workshop participants in the short video below:

Read about the other CircLean Open Innovation Workshops here:

  •  CircLean Open Innovation Workshop in Finland
  • CircLean Open Innovation Workshop in Hungary
  • CircLean Open Innovation Workshop in Belgium
  • CircLean Open Innovation Workshop in Spain 

If you are interested in joining the CircLean network, don’t hesitate to contact us.