Business models for industrial symbiosis: A guide for firms

Luca Fraccascia*, Maurizio Magno, Vito Albino

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)
322 Downloads (Pure)


Industrial symbiosis (IS) is a collaborative approach concerning physical exchange of materials, energy, and services among different firms: accordingly, wastes produced by a given firm are exploited as inputs by other firms. This approach is able to generate economic and environmental benefits at the same time, the former for the involved firms and the latter for the collectivity as a whole. For these reasons, the implementation of IS is largely recommended. However, despite its huge potentialities, the IS approach seems to be actually underdeveloped and not fully exploited. Firms without any prior experience of IS exchanges suffer from lack of awareness about how to integrate the IS practice into their current business models and how to gain economic benefits from IS. Since the willingness to obtain economic benefits is the main driver pushing firms to implement the IS practice, this issue constitutes an important barrier to the development of new IS relationships. In this paper, we contribute to this issue by identifying the different business models that each firm can adopt to implement the IS approach. In particular, we identify several business models for both firms producing waste and firms requiring waste. For each model, we highlight how firms can create and get economic value from IS. Moreover, from the interaction among firms, each of them implementing its own business model, several business scenarios at inter-firm level can arise. These scenarios are also presented: for each of them, strengths and weaknesses are identified and a short case study is discussed. The identified models can be useful at the company level since they provide indications about how to integrate the IS approach within their current business model.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)83-93
Number of pages11
JournalProcedia Environmental Science, Engineering and Management
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes
Event20th International Trade Fair of Material & Energy Recovery and Sustainable Development 2016 - Rimini Expo Centre, Rimini Fiera, Italy
Duration: 8 Nov 201611 Nov 2016
Conference number: 20


  • Circular economy
  • Industrial symbiosis
  • Sustainable business models
  • Value creation


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