Lisbon, 17 August 2018: BCSD Portugal has been advancing work toward identifying the environmental, social and economic benefits associated with the efficient use of resources and waste recovery, in order to advance and increase knowledge of the potential for industrial symbiosis in Portugal.

Its latest study, titled, Circular Synergies: Challenges for Portugal, seeks to identify synergies for waste and byproducts among 32 BCSD member companies, as well as putting possible industrial  symbiosis projects into practice, based on the following objectives:

  • Map the quantities of waste generated and received, and by-products from participating companies;
  • Identify industrial symbiosis opportunities among participating companies and the rest of the economy;
  • Assess the potential environmental, social and economic impact of the symbioses identified, and the potential of setting up symbioses among participating companies;
  • Put forward a number of recommendations and opportunities for action by local and central government to support the transition to a circular economy and industrial symbiosis.

What are the report’s main findings?

  • In Portugal, 1 million tons of waste are currently disposed of annually (2015). Although this figure may be an underestimate, if it was managed through industrial symbiosis, an environmental benefit of an estimated reduction of around 5.5 million tons of domestic raw material extraction might be achieved. At a social and economic level, the avoided intermediate consumption is equivalent to an estimated 165 million euros, which, by increasing final demand, could generate 32 million euros in GVA and 1,300 new jobs.
  • The six waste categories with the greatest potential for becoming alternative raw materials are: “biodegradable waste”, “bottom ash, slag and boiler dust”, “septic tank sludge”, “oily water from oil/water separators”, “green liquor sludge” and “aqueous washing liquids and mother liquors”. 59% of waste from these categories – equivalent to 210 thousand tons – is currently disposed of.
  • It is estimated that by implementing industrial symbiosis for these 210 thousand tons of waste, 95 thousand tons of intermediate consumption – the consumption between companies – and about 1 million tons of domestic raw material extraction could be avoided. This avoidance is estimated to yield savings of 42 million euros. The availability of this sum to increase final demand could generate around 12 million euros of GVA (gross value of production minus the cost of consumption in the production process) and around 450 new jobs.
  • Taking into account the waste generated and received by the participating companies, there exists an effective direct transaction potential of 17 thousand tons – about 0.2% of the total waste produced – relating to edible oil and fat, textile packaging and batteries and accumulators. It is in the northern and southern region areas of Portugal that the greatest opportunities for the exchange of these waste streams can be found.
  • Six priority actions aimed at speeding up the transition to industrial symbiosis are recommended, namely: regulatory changes to facilitate waste transactions; encouraging green  rocurement; increasing knowledge of industrial symbiosis in companies; facilitating tax and financing conditions; promoting collective platforms for resource management; and communicating results. These actions also include 14 proposed initiatives.

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