Industrial symbiosis is essential to the circular transition

The European Commission aims for a full circular economy (CE), which will reuse all resources in 2050. Implementing circular urban supply chains is a major economic transformation that can only work if significant coordination problems between the actors involved are solved. This requires, on the one hand, the implementation of efficient urban collection technologies, where process industries collaborate hand-in-hand with manufacturers and urban waste treatment specialists and are supported by digital solutions. On the other hand, it also requires implementing regional and urban ecosystems connected by innovative CO2-neutral circular city logistics systems smoothly and sustainably managing the regional flow of resources and data, often at large-scale and with interfaces between industrial processes and private and public actors. 

Industrial symbiosis

Industrial symbiosis, in which companies exchange residuals for resource efficiency, is essential to the circular transition. However, many companies are hesitant to implement business models for industrial symbiosis because of the various roles, stakes, opinions, and resulting uncertainties for business continuity.

A recent dissertation by Kasper de Langer (TU Delft/AUSA) supports researchers, professionals, and students in understanding and shaping circular business models for industrial symbiosis networks through collaborative modeling and simulation methods.

Business model design and experimentation

Three theoretical perspectives, design science research, complex adaptive socio-technical systems, and circular business model innovation, shed light on designing business models for industrial symbiosis. A serious game and agent-based models were developed in multiple case studies with researchers, practitioners, and students. These were then used to design circular business models and explore their efficacy under uncertain conditions, such as various behavioral intentions of potential partners in diverse natural and societal contexts.

This dissertation advances business model design and experimentation by integrated simulation of social and technical aspects of industrial symbiosis. Furthermore, the research shows how simulations facilitate learning processes in designing circular business models. Ultimately, the thesis equips researchers, practitioners, and students with knowledge, tools, and methods to shape a circular economy.

Source: Lange, K. P. H. (2022). Simulating industrial symbiosis: understanding and shaping circular business models for viable and robust industrial symbiosis networks through collaborative modelling and simulation.

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