The industrial symbiosis approach: A classification of business models

Vito Albino, Luca Fraccascia*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)
200 Downloads (Pure)


Industrial symbiosis 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 remarkable environmental benefits, since it allows to reduce the amount of wastes disposed of in the landfill and the amount of primary inputs used by the industrial sector. It has been proved that the economic logic is the basis of symbiotic exchanges. Through industrial symbiosis, firms are interested to achieve competitive advantage coming from lower production costs and revenue increase. Therefore, the first requirement for the establishment of a symbiotic relationship is its economic sustainability for all the firms involved. In this paper, from the analysis of actual cases of industrial symbiosis, we develop a classification of business models oriented to the symbiotic approach. The classification is based on the different ways in which industrial symbiosis is able to generate economic benefits for the firm that implements it. Six different business models oriented to industrial symbiosis have been identified. The proposed classification could be useful at the company level, in order to promote the implementation of the symbiotic approach, providing a guide about how to integrate it within its current business models.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)217-223
Number of pages7
JournalProcedia Environmental Science, Engineering and Management
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes
Event19th International Trade Fair of Material & Energy Recovery and Sustainable Development 2015 - Rimini Expo Centre, Rimini Fiera, Italy
Duration: 3 Nov 20156 Nov 2015
Conference number: 19


  • Business models
  • Circular economy
  • Competitive advantage
  • Environmental benefits
  • Industrial symbiosis


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