Srijana Mitra Das, she discusses industrial symbiosis, its environmental and financial advantages — and the teachings Indian companies in Nanjangud, Karnataka, can provide the world.
What’s the core of your work on industrial ecology?
The core is the concept that bodily assets matter. This implies supplies, power and water and analyzing this stuff not by themselves however as a system.
With this view, you don’t solely have a look at what occurs in a manufacturing unit making fridges, for instance. As an alternative, you look at what occurs alongside that entire worth chain, from digging minerals out of the earth in the direction of composing a fridge to the power that goes into producing and utilizing it to what occurs on the finish of the product’s life. This method examines all the pieces within the course of of making, utilizing and disposing merchandise. Industrial ecology follows the flows of supplies and power in enterprise and shopper actions and the results of those flows economically, in a regulatory sense and in environmental and social impacts.
What’s industrial symbiosis?
Apparently, the primary article on industrial ecology was written in 1989, by the administrators of the analysis and growth division at General Motors. They envisioned a really totally different strategy to manufacture vehicles — their concept was to preserve the atmosphere by reworking manufacturing, not by particular person automobiles, however by creating an built-in system. They termed this an industrial ecosystem — they recognised that inside vehicle vegetation, for example, it was vital to preserve power, optimise useful resource utilization and cut back waste. Alongside, a system was wanted the place effluents from one course of might turn into uncooked supplies for one more. That’s industrial symbiosis.
Additionally, in 1989, an industrial ecosystem was found in Kalundborg, Denmark, the place one firm’s waste was really one other’s inventory. Many separate firms have been working collectively. A coal-fired energy plant producing heated water was sharing this with entrepreneurs working a fish farm. A pharmaceutical firm was giving examined natural byproducts to native farmers for his or her fields. This turned an efficient mix of financial and environmental exercise working collectively to enhance enterprise and society.
What’s the enterprise logic for such symbiosis? Can it give companies a aggressive benefit?
This is a vital level — enterprise logic is shifting at this time. Again within the Nineteen Eighties, when firms weren’t conversant in environmental practices, however new legal guidelines on air and water air pollution have been popping out, the primary imaginative and prescient was merely to observe the legal guidelines. Within the subsequent part, it was recognised how a lot better this was socially — much less air and water air pollution meant much less illness and decrease strain on group networks. It additionally turned clear that these regulated practices have been benefitting firms. For those who use power judiciously in your plant, you pay much less. So, with decrease impacts got here higher backside traces.
Within the present part, consciousness has grown manifold that the enterprise of a enterprise should embody well-being for the group and all stakeholders.
Marian Chertow, professor of business environmental administration, Yale College.
You’ve researched industrial symbiosis globally — are you able to share your insights on India?
My workforce has studied a number of economies and we’ve discovered India to be essentially the most promising nation of all at industrial symbiosis. In India, individuals throughout the board have an ethos round assets not being endless and there being a must preserve these. We discovered essentially the most use and recapture of by-products in India. We studied the Nanjangud Industrial Space outdoors Mysuru, Karnataka. We examined 50 firms there to grasp the inputs and outputs of their vegetation. There was a wide selection of manufacturing amenities, together with a sugar refinery, a espresso producer, automotive elements makers, circuit board producers, textile factories and microenterprises.
We catalogued all the pieces that went in and got here out of those vegetation — it turned out that though nobody had recorded it, there was an excessive amount of partnership throughout these companies. They have been utilizing one another’s by-products with pure ease. These 50 firms created 9,00,000 tons of potential discards — that’s virtually one million tons that would have gone into the waste stream. Nonetheless, an unbelievable quantity of cooperation prevented this — the espresso maker gave his residues to an organization extracting oils from these. This firm gave the rest to a different firm making boiler gas. These weren’t firms in the identical business even, like paper and pulp — these have been very totally different firms that discovered aggressive benefit by useful resource sharing.
We discovered 99.5% of the 9,00,000 tons of potential discards have been reused or recycled no less than as soon as. That is already a round economic system with industrial symbiosis. Once we shared our findings with the businesses, their managers solely requested, ‘How can we enhance this to 100%?’ The world has so much to study from India right here.
Views expressed are private.