Le Figaro covers the Kalundborg Symbiosis

The French newspaper Le Figaro published an article on April 10 about the Kalundborg Symbiosis that Saint-Gobain Gyproc has been a part of since 1972.

An industrial symbiosis is a collaboration on resources between different companies for mutual economic and environmental benefit. One company’s residual becomes another company’s resource. The Kalundborg Symbiosis exists since the 1970s and reports every year a net economy of 24 million €, and 14 million € in socio-economic impact, according to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. The companies save together every year 635 000t of CO2, 3,6 million square meters of water and 87 000t of raw material. It is the first industrial symbiosis in the world. It provides its members with both environmental and ecological benefits.

The Kalundborg Symbiosis is a private association with 10 partners, 9 companies including Saint-Gobain and the Kalundborg municipality. It is based on commercial agreements between companies. Concretely this means that companies contract with each other to use their residue when relevant. Today there are almost 50 exchanges between the 10 partners. And each individual symbiosis project has reduced production costs, the use of fossil fuels and the intake of virgin resources, which has improved the competitive edge of all companies.

So how does it work? The electrical plant produces water vapor that is used for central heating in the city. The thermal power plant and the oil refinery’s activities produce a special type of waste: gypsum. This can be used by Saint-Gobain Gyproc as a raw material to make plasterboards.

The learning extracted from the Kalundborg case is that industrial symbiosis is a unique model of local collaboration that fosters economic growth and competitiveness by minimizing costs on waste management and resource purchases and by generating income from by-product sales.

“In Gyproc participating in the Symbiosis has always been very natural and supports our general focus on sustainability. Being the first of its kind in the World the Symbiosis has attracted a fair amount of attention over the years. But I think it is still quite amazing whenever we are looked upon from abroad – whether it be when receiving visitors from China, when being awarded the WIN WIN Gothenburg Sustainability Award or when a World famous newspaper like Le Figaro devotes an article to talking about the Symbiosis.”, says Mogens Nielsen, CEO, Saint-Gobain Denmark.     

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