Renewable Matter # 15 / March-April

United We Stand

by Adrian Deboutière, Laurent Georgeault

Savings in the use of raw materials, transformation of waste into resources, reduction of costs thanks to sharing of goods and services. This is how the French programme on the industrial symbiosis allows companies to become more competitive while improving their environmental performance.

 

edited by Institut de l’économie circulaire, Parigi www.institut-economie-circulaire.fr

 

Adrian Deboutière and Laurent Georgeault

 

In France, industrial ecology has gradually been integrating both scientific and policy fields since the beginning of the 21st century. First research-action programs have mainly been limited to industrial parks management. PNSI (Programme National de Synergies Inter-entreprises) has been designed as a national experimental program aiming to renew industrial symbiosis methods in France in consistency with recent territorial reforms. During the G7 workshop on resource efficiency, the French Ministry of Environment presented PNSI as a lead program for French companies competitiveness and sustainability.

Industrial ecology is a scientific field aiming to integrate economic activities within ecosystems boundaries. It is operationalized through industrial symbiosis that has rapidly been considered as a powerful policy tool to enhance both economic and environmental performance in territories. An industrial symbiosis is a cooperative action between several companies which consists in mutualizing capacities or optimizing material and energy flows. Waste water and energy recovery, raw metal and mineral substitution through reuse, or equipment and knowledge sharing aresome of the synergies that were led through the French national program on industrial symbiosis (PNSI).

PNSI arised as a lead-program after the 2013 French Environmental Conference that pointed industrial ecology as one of the priorities of Environmental French policy. This was confirmed in 2015 by the national law on energy transition. Designed by the Institut de l’économie circulaire, this experimental program is deployed in four regions (Nouvelle-Aquitaine, Bretagne, Normandie, Auvergne Rhône-Alpes) and upscales industrial symbiosis implementation areas in France. Contrary to previous projects that were targeting restricted industrial areas on a limited timeframe, regions are given a leading role to ensure complementarity, coherence and continuity of local actions. This coordination scale is consistent with the new competences of regions on economic and sustainable development attributed by the latest French law on territorial organisation. 

PNSI contributes to renew French industrial symbiosis methods by answering more efficiently to industrial needs and constraints. While former experiments were based on exhaustive material flows analysis for each company, PNSI is resting on a more cooperative workshop-based method coming from the UK. Fifteen meetings gathering more than 500 SMEs and large companies have been organized since the beginning of the program in July 2015. Every company has been given new business opportunities with environmental benefits. A set of practitioners has been designated in every region to assist companies in synergies completion. Companies are pleasantly surprised to discover that many cross-sectoral synergies are likely to be generated with neighbours.

Technical and regulatory support can be mutualized and provided at a regional or national scale. For instance, administrative barriers to synergies which are identified through the program can then be removed at the national level. However, practitioners must be deployed closer to companies to ensure success. In France, chambers of commerce, local officials or associations complementarily play this intermediation role. A national network of PNSI practitioners has been created in order to share best practices on companies mobilisation and synergies monitoring. Inter-regional synergies may even be conducted when companies needs cannot be met locally.

Results from PNSI will be delivered at the end of July 2017 and will orientate the French national strategy on industrial ecology. Intermediate results are already promising and have reinforced the growing dynamic for industrial symbiosis in French territories. Local authorities are crucial actors of the ecological transition through territorial land planning and economic policy. Yet, they are missing operational tools to involve local companies into sustainable development and circular economy. PNSI demonstrates that companies are motivated to reduce their environmental footprint as soon as they perceive concomitant economic benefits. Industrial symbiosis has consequently been cited as an efficient intersectoral policy in both G7 and European Commission recommendations for resource efficiency. 

 

 

Programme National de Synergies Inter-Entreprises, www.pnsi.fr