Industrial symbiosis (IS) is a collaborative approach among firms involving physical exchanges of materials, energy, and wastes, which creates economic advantages for firms and environmental benefits for the society. In this paper, we adopt an ecosystem approach to conceptualize the network of firms involved in IS relationships (ISN), in terms of organisms (firms), functions (waste exchange), and services (environmental benefits), and provide new insight on how to assess and compute IS performance indicators. In particular, we designed five classes of indicators aimed at assessing 1) the impact of services provided by ISNs on the environment, 2) the performance of the ISN services, 3) how the single functions contribute to ISN services, 4) the performance of the ISN functions, and 5) how the single firms contribute to ISN functions. A numerical example is also discussed showing how to compute them and the information they provide. The proposed indicators are useful to develop proper strategies to increase the efficiency of the system in exploiting the IS synergies, to improve the symbiotic exchanges carried out in ISNs, and to identify firms contributing most to IS benefits. Hence, they may assist managers of ISNs and policymakers in decision-making aspects, an urgent need of the literature.
- Ecosystem approach
- Industrial symbiosis networks
- Performance indicators
- Circular economy