Abstract

Improve resource efficiency through circular economy is one of the key element of the EU Green Deal. Besides being beneficial for the reduction of raw materials supply, moving towards a circular economy will parallelly contribute to reach important objectives of the EU Green Deal, such as the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and the decrease of environmental pollution.

Industrial symbiosis allows to implement the concept of circular economy in specific territorial contexts.

This paper briefly describes the methodological approach and the tools developed and tested by the Italian National Agency for New Technologies Energy and Sustainable Economic Development (ENEA) to support small and medium enterprises to improve their resources efficiency. This approach includes the resource audit and the methodology for the definition of industrial symbiosis networks and it is structured in four steps: data collection, identification of possible valorisation options for resources either internally to the company or externally though industrial symbiosis, the analysis of potential benefits and barriers, and the preparation of a summary report.

Introduction

The Green Deal of the European Commission has posed a set of ambitious intercorrelated challenges for our society (EC, 2019). Increasing the circular use of resources is, per se, an important step towards a sustainable future (EC, 2020), and it is instrumental to several of the abovementioned challenges, such as carbon neutrality (EU, 2020) and reduction of pollution (EC, 2021). Moreover, circular economy may contribute to reduce the dependence of Italy and, more in general, EU member states from imports of raw materials opening new business opportunities for companies and, at the same time, potentially limiting negative effects associated with variations in the supply of raw materials, as it happened in 2021 with the raw materials crisis.

Circular economy allows optimising the use of resources, contributing to decouple economic growth from the use of resources and related environmental impacts. By supporting the physical sharing of materials, energy, water, by-products, services, competences and/or capacities between different industries, industrial symbiosis supports the implementation of the concept of circular economy in specific territorial contexts.

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