Over 139 local businesses have collectively saved more than £5 million by applying the principles of industrial symbiosis to their resource streams through a range of support provided by Invest Northern Ireland.
Industrial symbiosis introduces businesses that have unused or wasted resources, such as materials, heat, transport, production capacity, skills or storage, to other businesses that could use those resources.
As well as generating £5.5m in cost savings, the 139 businesses that have so far been involved in the scheme in Northern Ireland have achieved £12m in additional sales and created or secured 71 jobs.
The environmental benefits have been equally impressive with 139,000 tonnes of waste diverted from landfill, 247,000 tonnes of CO2 and over 130,000 tonnes of virgin materials saved.
As a recent example Larne Lough Nurseries was introduced to construction company H&J Martin, which was able to provide hundreds of redundant scaffolding planks that were used to construct an outdoor classroom and also for landscaping.
Other companies, such as Huhtamaki, Michelin and Greiner Packaging, have applied industrial symbiosis solutions to help them towards “zero waste to landfill” goals. Plaswire and Frylite have used industrial symbiosis to identify sources of waste that are now converted into plastic products and fuels.
Olive Hill, Invest NI’s Director of Technology and Process Development, says: “The industrial symbiosis initiatives help provide local solutions for wastes generated within Northern Ireland while also producing products that are exported across the world. The cost benefits for the companies involved are considerable, their sustainability is enhanced and the environment also gains from reduced landfill and CO2 emissions. It really is a win-win situation for all involved.”
Three Synergy Workshops to match businesses that have resources with other businesses that could use those resources are planned for September. The workshops will be hosted by BE Aerospace, Kilkeel on 19 September, Invista, Maydown on 22 September and Belfast Harbour Commissioners on 28 September.