Industrial symbiosis (IS) developments have been differentiated as ‘self organized’, ‘facilitated’, and ‘planned’. ‘Facilitating’ IS, may be described as the actions normative researchers and practitioners take to actively assist in the development of IS networks. While social networking methods - such as networking workshops or focus groups (proven extensively in the UK) have been identified as key to facilitating IS; tools of a more analytical nature could support IS facilitators in the stages leading up to social facilitation methods.
This article introduces an analytical tool that has been built with objectives to support the facilitation of IS. ‘Looplocal’ is a visualization tool built to assist in 1) the identification of regions prone to new industrial symbiosis activities 2) market potential exchanges to key actors and 3) assist aspiring facilitators to assess the various strategies and social methodologies available for the initial phases of a facilitated industrial symbiosis venture.
Looplocal utilizes open data sources to enable implementation in all European nations – and ease the adaptation for non-European nations. This tool combines life cycle inventory (LCI) data, Eurostat waste statistics, and national industrial data (including geographic, industry classification, economic, and contact data) to perform a heuristic analysis of waste (material and energy) generation and raw material and energy input. Along with an extensive list of ‘waste to raw material’ substitutions (direct, combined, or upgraded) gathered from IS uncovering studies and waste and energy professionals, heuristic regional output to input ‘matching’ is output and visualized in various forms.
In Sweden, on a national or regional scale the tool has given a quick overview of what could be the most interesting regions to invest resources for an IS facilitation. Focusing in on a regional level, the tool visualized the potential structure of the network in that region (centralized, decentralized, or distributed), allowing the facilitator to adapt their facilitation approach accordingly. Finally, the tool presented potential IS transfer information, along with key stakeholder data – allowing for the marketing of potential exchanges through means such as targeted focus groups and customized online tools.
Run with Swedish industrial statistics the tool identified hot spots that differ from those one would anticipate from industrial density or diversity analysis. The actual benefits to facilitation are to be analyzed through case studies in 2012.
Building on best practice and novel IS transfers identified in the expanse of IS uncovering studies, Looplocal looks to assist aspiring IS facilitators to quickly identify – and market – resource transfer potentials in similar contexts. While industries are quite unique in their raw material input specifications and material output specifications, this heuristic tool is believed to foster a better understanding and investigation of IS networking potential. Further field testing of the method will enable a better assessment of its practical usability for facilitators.