Symbiosis Readiness Levels: A Conceptual Framework For Facilitating Industrial Symbiosis Partnerships

Mie Skjødt

Student thesis: Master thesis


The circular economy aims at gradually decoupling economic growth from the use of finite resources. Within the field of Industrial Ecology, the concept of Industrial Symbiosis emphasizes the importance of crossing industrial boundaries of traditionally separated industries at an interfirm level by using a collective approach to deal with the flow of materials and energy. Despite industrial circularity being a cornerstone of the European Green Deal for a competitive Europe, there is a gap in knowledge between academia and practical experience. Though academia has identified conceptual approaches, empirical research has proven such concepts are often inadequate to reach circular potential in reality. This Master Thesis was conducted in collaboration with the Kalundborg Symbiosis and the Nordic Circular Hubs Network. Through an embedded single case study with multiple units of analysis being facilitators from Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Iceland and Finland related, the research has explored facilitation practices of Industrial Symbiosis Partnerships. Findings showed that Symbiosis Readiness Levels could support Industrial Symbiosis facilitation for communicative purposes both retrospectively and forward-looking, while simplifying the iterative facilitation processes as a stepby-step guidance. At the same time as exploring underlying facilitation processes, the research contributed to the conceptual framework of Symbiosis Readiness Levels with practical tools for facilitators to apply at each level towards a resilient partnership. Furthermore, the case study identified a hindering facilitation factor being the currently unstructured approach to identify resource synergies and matching potential companies, which constitutes a signification boundary in progressing through SRL as information and potential synergies are lost. Additionally, facilitators play a gradually important role in supporting business-as-usual activities beyond the initial facilitation practices, thus the research has identified two areas in which facilitators can strengthen activities for additionally industrial symbiosis development.

EducationsMSc in International Business and Politics, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2021
Number of pages88
SupervisorsSönnich Sönnichsen