Kalundborg Industrial Symbiosis

The world’s first working industrial symbiosis!


← back to informations
DK Denmark
Web Unknown


About the project Edit

In Kalundborg Symbiosis, public and private enterprises buy and sell waste products from industrial production in a closed cycle. The residual products traded can include steam, dust, gases, heat, slurry or any other waste product that can be physically transported from one enterprise to another.

A residual product originating from one company becomes the raw material of another, thereby benefiting both the economy and the environment.

An industrial symbiosis is a local collaboration where public and private enterprises buy and sell residual products, resulting in mutual economic and environmental benefits.

In what ways is this project unique and creative? Edit

Over the last two decades, a group of industrial partners based in Kalundborg, Denmark, spontaneously developed a series of bilateral exchanges which included a number of other companies. There was no initial planning of the overall network: it just evolved as a collection of one-on-one deals that made economic sense for the pairs of participants in each.

This web of recycling and reuse has generated new revenues and cost savings for the companies involved and reduced pollution of air, water and land in the region. In ecological terms, Kalundborg exhibits the characteristics of a simple food web: organisms consume each other's waste materials and energy, thereby becoming interdependent with each other.

This pattern of inter-company reuse and recycling has reduced air, water, and ground pollution, conserved water and other resources, and generated new revenue streams from the byproducts exchanged.

What is the social value of this project? Edit


What is the potential of this project to expand and develop? Edit

The Kalundborg Symbiosis began in 1961, when Statoil (then Esso) needed water for their refinery near Kalundborg. The first conduit pipes in Kalundborg Symbiosis were laid between Statoil and the nearby lake, Tissø.

In 1972, Statoil entered into an agreement with Gyproc, a local gypsum production enterprise, for the supply of excess gas from Statoil's production to Gyproc. Gyproc used the gas (today, natural gas) for the drying of the plasterboard produced in their ovens.

The following year, 1973, Dong Energy (then, the Asnæs Plant) was connected to the Statoil water pipe, and what would later come to be known as the Kalundborg Symbiosis, now had three partners.

Over the years, more and more businesses were linked to the Kalundborg Symbiosis and in 1989, the term "industrial symbiosis" was used to the describe the collaboration for the first time.

. All contracts have been negotiated on a bilateral basis.
. Each contract has resulted from the conclusion of both companies involved that the project would be economically attractive.
. Opportunities not within a company's core business, no matter how environmentally attractive, have not been acted upon.
. Each partner does its best to ensure that risks are minimized.
. Each company evaluates their own deals independently. There is no system-wide evaluation of performance and they all seem to feel this would be difficult to achieve.

For such an experiment to be reproduced, there are a number of key success factors that need to be implemented:

- Industries must be different yet fit each other.
- Arrangements must be commercially sound and profitable.
- Development must be voluntary, in close collaboration with regulatory agencies.
- A short physical distance between the partners is necessary for economy of transportation (with heat and some materials).
- At Kalundborg, the managers at different plants all knew each other.

What was the triggering factor of this project? Edit

The Kalundborg industrial symbiosis developed spontaneously. This web of materials and energy exchanges among companies (and with the community) has developed over the last 20 years in a small industrial zone on the coast of Denmark, 75 miles west of Copenhagen.

Originally, the motivation behind most of the exchanges was to reduce costs by seeking income-producing uses for "waste" products. Gradually, the managers and town residents realized they were generating environmental benefits as well, through their transactions.

What is the business model of this project? Edit

Project Community

0 fans and 0 members

Join the team

You find this project inspiring ?



The partner enterprises in Kalundborg Symbiosis are:

Novo Nordisk is the world’s largest producer of insulin. They have around 2600 employees in Kalundborg. The Novo Nordisk representative for Kalundborg Symbiosis is Claus Søjle. Of their collaboration in the symbiosis, he says: “Collaborating in a symbiosis makes participant businesses stronger economically, and reduces consumption of resources.”

Novozymes is the world’s largest producer of enzymes. They have around 500 employees in Kalundborg. The Novozymes representative for Kalundborg Symbiosis is Søren Carlsen. Of their collaboration in the symbiosis, he says: “The idea of the symbiosis solves many significant problems simultaneously, namely the need for environmental preservation and the demand for economic growth.”

French-owned Gyproc produces gypsum board. They have around 165 employees in Kalundborg. Gyproc's representative for Kalundborg Symbiosis is Mogens Nielsen. Of their collaboration in the symbiosis, he says: “We gain access to high-quality raw materials, at extremely competitive prices.”

Kalundborg Municipality handles, among other things, the water and heat supply for Kalundborg's approximately 50.000 inhabitants. The representative of the municipality for Kalundborg Symbiosis is Claus Steen Madsen. Of their collaboration in the symbiosis, he says: “These reuse activities have increased employment opportunities in the area, and have helped to create a framework for green growth in Kalundborg Municipality.”

Dong Energy own the Asnæs Plant, the biggest power plant in Denmark. They have around 120 employees in Kalundborg. The president of Kalundborg Symbiosis is DONG’s Bjarne Olsen. Of their collaboration in the symbiosis, he says: “Through Inbicon and other biofuel initiatives it has become possible to make use of new organic raw materials and so produce a great range of valuable byproducts – byproducts that can be used in the Symbiosis.”

RGS 90 handles waste and contaminated soil for recycling and recovery. They have around 15 employees in Kalundborg. RGS 90's representative for the symbiosis is Jens Arre Nord. Of their collaboration in the symbiosis, he says: “Today the participating businesses clearly work more closely together as a result of the symbiosis activities.”

Statoil owns Denmark’s biggest oil refinery. They have around 350 employees in Kalundborg. Statoil’s representative for the symbiosis is Rasmus F. Wille. Of their collaboration in the symbiosis, he says: “The symbiosis helps to make the Kalundborg refinery exceedingly energy-efficient, and it is the only oil refinery in the world where sulfur from the desulphurization facility is converted into liquid fertilizer.”

Kara/Novoren is a waste treatment company. They have around 15 employees in Kalundborg. Kara/Novoren’s representative for Kalundborg Symbiosis is Torkild Jørgensen. Of their collaboration in the symbiosis, he says: “The key to the success of Kalundborg Symbiosis stems from emphasis being placed, to a much greater degree, on the combined effectiveness of all the processes involved, instead of just on the effectiveness of a single process.”

Kalundborg Forsyning A/S supplies the citizens of Kalundborg city with water and district heating, as well as disposing of waste water from the entire municipality. They have 66 employees in Kalundborg. Kalundborg Forsyning’s representative for Kalundborg Symbiosis is Torben Jørgensen. Of their collaboration in the symbiosis, he says: “The symbiosis reduces the amount of waste water our facility is required to handle. That results in an increased capacity when it comes to the number of enterprises the facility can serve.”