Industrial symbiosis, representing resource sharing and byproduct use among colocated firms, is a key concept of industrial ecology. Local co-operation in industrial symbioses can reduce raw material use and waste disposal, but material and energy flows extending outside symbiosis boundaries can cause considerable environmental impacts. These external impacts are often ignored in industrial symbiosis studies. In this study, we compared process, hybrid and input−output life cycle assessment (LCA) approaches in quantifying the overall environmental impacts of a forest industrial symbiosis, situated in Kymenlaakso, Finland. Conclusions from an earlier process-LCA were strengthened by the use of hybrid-LCA as local emissions were found to cause less than half of the global impacts. In some impact categories, the whole impact was caused by supply chain emissions (land use, metal depletion and ozone depletion). The cutoff in process-LCA was found to be less than 25%, except in metal depletion and terrestrial ecotoxicity. Input−output LCA approximated hybrid-LCA results well in most impact categories, but seriously underestimated land use and overestimated terrestrial ecotoxicity. Based on the results we conclude, that input−output based LCA can be used to analyze the global impacts of an industrial symbiosis, but a careful interpretation of the results is necessary in order to understand the influence of aggregation and allocation.
Mattila, T. J., Pakarinen, S., & Sokka, L. (2010). Quantifying the total environmental impacts of an industrial symbiosist: A comparison of process-, hybrid and input-output life cycle assessmen. Environmental Science & Technology, 44(11), 4309-4314. https://doi.org/10.1021/es902673m