International Perspectives on Industrial Ecology

International Perspectives on Industrial Ecology

Studies on the Social Dimensions of Industrial Ecology series

Edited by Pauline Deutz, Donald I. Lyons and Jun Bi

With its high-level focus on industrial ecology-related policies such as circular economy and industrial symbiosis, this book provides a timely analysis of the industrial ecology experience worldwide. Editors Pauline Deutz, Donald I. Lyons, and Jun Bi combine their diverse experiences in both research and teaching to examine the topic as a business, community, and academic endeavor in different settings worldwide.

Chapter 8: Bilateral symbiosis in Australia and the issue of geographic proximity

Robin Branson and Phil McManus

Subjects: business and management, corporate social responsibility, management and sustainability, environment, corporate social responsibility, environmental management, environmental sociology


The central topic of this chapter is the spatial dimension of industrial symbiosis, applied particularly to the use of waste for environmental and commercial benefit. In it we examine the significance of geographic proximity and the related features of a network and short mental distance in establishing relationships in practice. Reference to waste raises the question of how waste is defined and what distinguishes it from a by-product. This and the other issues mentioned below are also addressed. Chertow (2000) described industrial symbiosis as separate organisations collectively exchanging materials, energy and water to their mutual advantage. Key features are inter-firm collaboration and geographic proximity. She subsequently developed the concept by stating a minimum criterion of a ‘3–2 heuristic’. This means that ‘at least three different entities must be involved in exchanging at least two different resources to be counted as a basic type of industrial symbiosis’ (Chertow, 2007, 12). In this article also, Chertow emphasises the criticality of geographic proximity as a prerequisite for industrial symbiosis.

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