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By-Product Synergy: A Sustainable Way Ahead

In one of my previous post on CSR, I had mentioned a little bit on by-product synergy. However, this in itself an innovative concept which I thought deserved its own space.

So what is by product synergy?

Well, in the most basic sense it is turning one factory’s waste or by-products into another industry’s raw material. It is an aspect of industrial ecology, a science that studies industrial systems in order to find ways to lessen their environmental impact.

Following are a few favorable impact of by-product synergy:

Reduced costs

Using the by-product of another can reduce the cost of the resource if brought ‘first hand’ from its source. Industries can also increase revenue by selling the by-product formed from their processes. Also, it can also lessen the cost used to dispose of waste material.

Sustainable future

By reusing resources, the amount of trees cut, minerals mined, etc can be reduced. It also reduces the amount of waste being disposed and clogging natural water bodies and mangroves among other places.

More Communication and interaction

In order to transfer resources from one industry to another, interaction is needed among the two (or more industries). This facilitates an increase in communication among businesses.

An example of by-product synergy is Kalundborg Eco- Industrial Park locate in Kalundborg, Denmark. Some companies included in this are Novo Nordisk (Pharmaceuticals), Gyproc (Gypsum), Novozymes (Biotechnology), DONG (Energy), Statoil (Oil & gas), Novoren (Waste treatment), Kalundborg Forsyning A/S (Water and heat supplier) and Kalundborg Municipality among others.

The below slideshow shows the exchange among the industries and savings.

Like everything good, by-product synergy has its flipside as well. Some include:

Geography (Transport)

Due to space constraints not all industries can be established close to each other. Shifting waste/ raw material from one factory to another can be difficult if they are both far away. Transporting the materials can result in an increase in cost (instead of decreasing it). It also will end using up more resources by burning up fuel and increasing the amount of carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, etc in the atmosphere.


Many times with companies’ sharing a particular resource questions on who is responsible for what arises. This can happen in cases of miscommunication.

As this new form of technology keeps catching on, there’s hope that more and more industries will follow this mode of production in order to bring about a more sustainable world with better communication.

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