In class we learned that Industrial Symbiosis is when two or more companies exchange materials, products, or energy, to minimize as much waste as possible and to make these things into new products that could be sold. This reuse of materials will reduce waste and create as little pollution as possible. This industrial symbiosis relationship between companies creates a cycle where things that would typically become waste are given new life and create more profit instead of hurting the environment.
The article we read explores the different limitations of certain wastes and cases of industrial symbiosis within the Greek industry. This article identifies that there are certain limitations on waste’s ability to be reused due to location, cost, and physical material. The article separates these limitations into seven categories based on physical attributes; fuels, thermal energies, metals, plastics, chemicals, minerals, and organics.
Waste compatibility is a distinct factor due to the fact that the physical characteristics of some things are not as easily reusable as others. In the article, they give the example that agricultural waste such as yeast residues can easily be used for other agricultural activities, however, some wastes do not recycle as easily. Another factor is the spatial allocation as it is easier to recycle materials if there is somewhere to do so nearby. The article also talks about the importance of transportation cost and how this often will affect how easy it is for industrial symbiosis to happen.
Overall, according to the article, there are the economic factors such as spatial allocation of waste, production capacity of waste by spatial scale, land acquisition cost, labor cost, and transport cost. Then there are the environmental or physical factors such as the characteristics of waste and its compatibility. Finally, there are the social factors including conventional behavioral factors. The article goes on to conclude that for an industrial symbiosis economy to be possible, all of these factors must be considered and have to be used to design these networks and cycles.
The article concludes that doing this is often impossible, and while I believe this is likely true, I think it is still important to do our best to achieve our sustainability goals even if we do not completely hit the mark.
The eco innovation observatory is where they collect and study info on eco innovations and circular economies in different places in the EU, and provide an information resource with this analysis of findings. Greece is extremely affected by climate change, and pollution affects Greece heavily due to a fifth of the country being islands and most of Greece being coastal. This information being collected helps so that companies and creators can use this information to continue to improve and work on new ideas. Additionally, this helps the government make decisions as it is important that all the facts are known before important decisions regarding the environment and policy are made.
Funding of research in Greece is almost entirely from EU funds as the EU has allocated 28.8 million to promote new technology and innovation to help the environment. This money is additionally to be used for promoting efficiency of resources when it comes to waste management, soil contamination, water management, and air pollution. Greece is pretty behind when it comes to environmental information, there are very minimal patent applications from Greece, and Greek businesses are generally small. However, there are many Greek startups intending to apply for patents due to the abundance of funding that is now attainable from abroad.
When it comes to landfills, Greece lacks the means to handle issues with illegal landfills and are overall having issues with waste management. Although to me it seemed that Greece was very thorough with recycling, they still are behind the goal of fifty percent waste recycling by 2020. I think that overall the EU is just very ahead of America when it comes to recycling, so although Greece may not be doing as good as the rest of the EU, it is clear that there is a more strict approach to recycling than in America. I believe that Greece will continue to grow in their development of environmental innovation as funding is now higher as they are coming out of their economic crisis.
Although recycling is an important practice for us to have in trying to protect our planet and resources, recycling on its own will not help us in fixing our planet’s sustainability problems. A circular economy supports designing and creating products to be reused and minimize waste. Most businesses in our current economy use the linear process which is when products go from being produced to waste, and although some of this waste may be recycled, this system is not as sustainable as it could be. A circular economy plans in a way so that economic activities that affect human health such as pollution are ;ess prominent. Only renewable resources are used in place of fossil fuels in a circular economy, as fossil fuels are not a maintainable energy resource. Additionally, products are designed in a way so that they are able to be recycled and circulating through the economy as long as possible.
The goal of the circular economy is to align the economy with nature and try to imitate nature’s natural cycle. McDonough and Bradfort use the analogy of a cherry tree where as fruit falls to the ground, the decomposing fruit puts nutrients into the ground and nourishes plants, insects, etc and supports regrowth and new life. This is how we should be trying to build our economy, so that waste is not harmful but instead serves a purpose, and things move back through the cycle as many times as possible.
I appreciate the concept of a circular economy that nothing should be thrown away, as I myself try to waste as little as possible. The figure in the article that says one third of food produced for human consumption goes to waste is crazy to me as the world food program estimates 10% of the world is hungry and there is no reason for that much to go to waste. The same concept goes for clothes, our generation is constantly repurchasing clothes and keeping them for half the time that clothes were worn for before. This does not make sense because we have better technology now and clothes should be lasting longer, but fast fashion is taking over and this needs to be minimized as our world is dying around us.
Overall, I have never heard of the idea of a circular economy before this class, but I believe it is what makes the most sense and I can’t believe I have never heard of it before. It is interesting to me as it seems the general public in Europe is so much more educated on sustainability, and I really do not know much although I have even taken a sustainability class before.
In class today we met US diplomat Yuri Arthur. I found her to be very nice and approachable, which while I was not necessarily expecting her to be mean, I did not expect her to be so welcoming. She talked to us a lot about what her job actually was and how absurd some of the things she covers in her day to day schedule are, but all these tasks are important although they may seem trivial. She told us about all the places she has lived for work which I found interesting, because I am not sure I would be able to uproot myself and resettle somewhere completely foreign every four years. I was glad to hear that the government provides her with the things she would need to live in foreign places.
She also gave us a lot of advice when it came to our future careers and what we should be doing now to prepare ourselves. Although I am not necessarily interested in the career path of a diplomat, she gave a lot of good career advice that applies to every field. I found it interesting when she said that we should take advantage of being students now as most people are more willing to speak to students and tell us about what we do and give us advice. Additionally, when she was talking about interviews she told us how we should always just apply to a job even though we may be told we aren’t qualified, it is always worth a try as that is what she did when she got her job as a diplomat with little experience.
I found it interesting to listen to someone who is so well traveled, especially when she talked about the cultural differences between countries, and how she always stresses how important it is to make sure that the country a business is looking to bring their product into makes sense. For example, she spoke about how certain higher end products would not be sold into a lower income country because there is not a large market as no one could necessarily afford it.
I am grateful for the opportunity to hear from her and her colleagues as they all were extremely intelligent and seemed to have passion for their jobs which is something that I hope I will be able to achieve one day.
Visiting Hydra was by far my favorite thing I did on this entire trip. I have always been fond of smaller islands and nothing prepared me for how beautiful and charming Hydra would be. I had so much fun swimming in the ocean and enjoying the beauty of the island, we even went on a donkey ride that was one of my favorite parts of the trip. I had thought initially that Mykonos would be my favorite place that I had visited but I enjoyed that Hydra felt less touristy and the beautiful beaches exceeded Mykonos in my opinion. The water was the prettiest green blue and swimming in Hydra was the most serene experience. I think that there being no cars on the island and the only means of transport being donkeys is interesting and there is likely much less pollution and harm to the environment because of it. But, the article talks about how although tourism is the islands main source of income, Hydra cannot really support it. The article talks about the issues with trash and water.
Hydra does not necessarily have any sort of their own governing body and this makes it difficult as there are many decisions that need to be made in regard to their sustainability issues. Although there are no cars on the island there are two garbage trucks that pick up trash every morning and bring it to a location in the middle of the island to light it on fire. As is said in the article, the trash from last summer was burning into the winter. This is not necessarily a long term solution and if Hydra was to grow as a tourist destination there would need to be a new solution. Additionally, Hydra pumps its wastewater into the sea nightly including sewage. There are clearly some issues with sanitation in Hydra that need to be solved, which is sad because the island is the prettiest place I have ever visited. I hope that in the future Greece is able to fix these issues as there seems to be issues with trash in many places in Greece according to the article on circular economies. Although the rest of Greece seems to be improving and they are heavily promoting recycling, it seems that Hydra has been left behind due to how small and old school the island is.
Growing up, I had never learned much about sustainability because I grew up in a town that was not necessarily moving towards being more sustainable, and my parents did not necessarily take special interest in it. However, I did learn about sustainability in the way that my dad had always taught me how important it is not to waste. Anytime I didn’t finish the food on my plate or use something I bought he told me about how the Native Americans who lived where I grew up would use every piece of the animal they had hunted due to respect for the animal. Although he is not necessarily very eco-conscious, he is the opposite of an over consumer which is a core concept of sustainability. He has made me aware of my waste growing up which I think is important, but this went a step further when I came to CofC. My roommate Rebecca, is an environmental geoscience major so sustainability is very important to her, so although it was never really at the front of my mind before, it has become very important to me because of her.
However, being in Greece has made me realize how much less emphasis there is in America in recycling as the system of recycling seems to be much more thorough in Greece in my experience so far. I have also found it interesting to be learning about the cradle to cradle concept in sustainability. I never have thought much about how recycling goes beyond me, and what the businesses I support do with their waste. I like the idea of businesses trying to develop products in a way so that the waste will be able to be reused to sell more products. I intend to work in advertising for a business one day and I think that although the cradle to cradle concept is not supposed to be practiced solely for marketing purposes, if a company is able to reduce their waste by a high percentage this could easily give them an advantage over their competitor.
Although I am not necessarily a sustainability major or minor, I would like to work for a company that is more sustainable and practices recycling as this aligns with my personal values. Additionally I believe that soon companies that are known to generate excessive waste will become less lucrative as the consumer is beginning to care more about the environment, especially in Europe which seems to be ahead in this concept.
Industrial symbiosis is the process of a business forming relationships between two or more associates to exchange waste in order to reduce, reuse, and recycle the waste. This waste is used to create their products and when companies have this kind of relationship an industrial ecosystem is formed. Industrial ecosystems have two groups, an eco industrial park and an eco industrial network. This reading discusses multiple case studies concerning this in Greece. 445 case studies, both big and small businesses, were identified concerning industrial symbiosis in 16 eco industrial networks. A total of 45 waste types were discovered, which contained energy exchange and material resource exchange. All of these businesses were found throughout Greece, materials were transported by either trucks or ships if they were being shipped abroad. Waste is separated into thermal energy, fuels, metals, plastics, chemicals, minerals, and organics. Waste compatibility is a major factor that concerns the physical characteristics of waste which allows it to be used as it is. An example would be waste from agricultural activities that can be used in a variety of different other rural activities. This means agricultural wastes are very compatible and are often exchanged at the smaller spatial scale. According to the research there are 30 established industrial parks in Greece while 24 are still under construction. Many of the cases are from smaller spatial scales, IP and locals. Waste has been shipped by boat to other countries including Italy, Spain, Russia and China. Transporting waste by boat is cheap, meaning that it is still profitable to transport. Econ industrial Network of aluminum is a spatial allocation of companies at the Ip scale in Greece. Typically the alumina waste is exchanged on a national scale. However the end of life product is exchanged at a global scale.
Extensive research shows how recycling waste products through multilevel eco-industrial networks benefits physical, spatial, economic, and environmental conditions. Industrial Symbiosis is the relationship between two more firms that exchange their waste as feedstock for their production processes. Through studying various firms and industrial networks, researchers have concluded that recycling the materials used in the supply chain and production greatly affects the environment and the company itself. However, many eco-industrial limits prevent the use of certain materials in design and production. During the identification and documentation of case studies, a total of 45 waste types were identified, and the documents included both cases of energy exchange and cases of material resources exchange. Cases of industrial waste exchange were also identified through research as well as cases of end-of-life-cycle product exchange. However, the study only included end-of-life-cycle products if industrial waste was also exchanged within the same network. The businesses participating in industrial symbiosis are scattered throughout Greece, and trucks were primarily used for the production of waste within the country, whereas ships were primarily used for transportation abroad.
The transportation of waste across such large distances remains profitable due to the relatively low cost of transporting cargo in containers by sea, while the environmental benefit in these cases remains to be investigated. Regarding superheated water, the country aims to avoid heat loss, which increases with increasing transport distance. On the same note, Greece tries as best as it can to produce organic waste and residues to avoid high emissions of toxic waste. Organic waste can be easily used by other companies in the agriculture sector, and the nearest end user is generally found within the lowest spatial scale. Wastepaper, which are scraps from various metals and old. tires are collected and often refined and compressed before their transport to recycling companies on the local level to reduce transport costs. Carbon dioxide is also primarily transported at the lowest spatial scale, perhaps due to the difficulties and risks associated with the transport of compressed gasses over long distances. These gasses are either transported by pipes directly from the producer to a nearby receiver or by tank trucks, which should not travel long distances for safety reasons.
Waste compatibility can be considered a distinct factor that concerns the physical characteristics of waste that permit its direct use. This factor strongly affects the spatial allocation scale of the exchange networks for different types of waste.
The eco-innovation observatory is a much-needed information source for companies and innovation service providers, providing a solid decision-making basis for policy development. The observatory provides insight into how sustainable a company is and how much waste they emit into the environment. The Environmental Performance Index ranks Greece as a stronger performer in the scheme of global rankings. Greece sits in 25th place as the country has an average performance in the areas of air quality, fish stocks, and GHG emissions intensity. However, the country struggles with many challenges, such as air emissions from transport. and electric power stations, overexploitation of its water resources, and loss of marine diversity in various ecosystems around the country. Greece remains to be one of the best countries that prioritize sustainable energy as they continue to be one of the most successful countries in the use of solar thermal energy. A great addition that the country has in mind it the Greek government is preparing a Master Plan for the gradual closure of lignite-burning energy plants in areas where the plants are located. As a result of this plan, the pressures from the generation and treatment of waste have been reduced greatly. As great as this is, the closure of illegal landfills. and illegal metal foundries continue to be a challenge for the country to overcome.
The eco-innovation input index is based on the national indicators of the government’s environmental and energy R&D appropriations and outlays. Greece scored only 79, with the European Union average being 100 in 2018. Compared to 2016, when the country increased its performance considerably, Greece’s performance was only slightly higher, 57. Aside from the more eco-innovation aspects, Greece continues to have one of the lowest performances in socio-economic outcomes. For reference, in 2016, eco-industry exports reached only EUR 56 million but then improved in 2016 when the exports counted to EUR 32 million. Additionally, there was a decrease in total employment from 2016 to 2018. But in 2018, the size of the eco-industry has decreased, with its revenue being 1.32%of total revenue across all companies.
As positive of an impact the eco-innovations have had on the country, the efforts to introduce them in the construction sector slowed down greatly. Due to the economic crisis, companies have sought to explore opportunities afforded by eco-innovations in terms of costs and cater to clients’ needs. As all of these socioeconomic issues have continued, Greece remains to lack a clear and cohesive framework for the support of eco-innovation and eco-industries despite the improvement through various innovations and research projects.
From the start of the article, the idea of a circular economy sounds promising, because as many of us well know, the solution to climate change can’t be a catch-all, and needs to be a major change. And not just in our every day habits, but we need to think bigger and get down to the root of the problem. So when the article compares the circular economy to a linear economy, it puts things in perspective, just like we talked about during lecture. I feel like waste is something that I can’t quite comprehend, just the shear quantity from the United states alone. From food being thrown out at grocery stores, to leftover clothing scraps at manufacturing plants, it seems almost intuitive that that waste should be used for a better purpose than to just be buried or burned. But with corporations worrying only about money, the environment hasn’t been a priority, which is why I’m hoping with a more circular economy, there will be an increased incentive to more sustainable business practices.
I like the quote from the article “Nothing is lost, everything is transformed” because it represents a shifted perspective for products at the end of their life. I can relate this to my everyday life in that, I find myself not wanting to throw away nice packaging such as perfume bottles, even when I’ve used the product. I’m not super handy so I can’t think of new uses for everything, but I always with there was another option than just wasting the product, when the packing could obviously have more use. This to me feels like a real life example of something that could be transformed as opposed to just getting lost. So in the framework of cradle to cradle, if a perfume bottle was say designed with the intention of life beyond its intended use, the materials that went into that packaging could have a far longer lifecycle than in a linear economy. I feel like looking to earth and its systems itself, to come up for solutions for the changing planet is a really smart idea, that seems so simple, but has somehow been surpassed for too many years.
Additionally, the circular economy seems really appealing to me because it goes beyond slowing down the changing of the environment, but even goes so far as to try and help the environment. Like the article explained, biodegradable consumable products will be put back into the earth, to create nutrients. In our current state of constant deforestation, nutrients seem more important than ever, and I hope to see more of these circular practices implemented in the future.