Bipartisan Leadership Delivers Policy Breakthrough
Industrial symbiosis converts waste into economic value and slashes pollution
Washington State has adopted the nation's first industrial symbiosis program with the passage of SB 5345.
Industrial symbiosis (IS) is a ground-breaking, triple-bottom-line approach to economic development, where one industry’s waste – energy, water, or materials – becomes another industry’s valued resource.
CSI helped bring IS to the attention of bipartisan Washington state lawmakers in 2017, 2018, and 2019 through tours of Kalundborg, Denmark, put on by our partner i-SUSTAIN and made possible with the generous support of the Scan Design Foundation.
The concept of IS was born in Kalundborg and evolved over several decades into a network of over a dozen major facilities capturing and reusing waste resources. Today, this city of only 17,000 residents generates $28 million in annual economic value, saves nearly a billion gallons of water annually, and cuts climate pollution by over 600,000 tons a year.
Since 2017, CSI has worked with the legislature to stand up this new IS program. In 2018, the State commissioned a CSI-produced guide to industrial symbiosis for economic development efforts in Raymond, WA. In 2019, CSI contributed to a state-commissioned study of IS options, which in turn led to the unanimous passage of the new program in 2020 – only to have it vetoed in the face of plummeting state revenues in the early days of the pandemic.
SB 5345’s prime sponsor, Sen. Sharon Brown, R-Kennewick, and her bi-partisan colleagues were inspired by Denmark's example and have worked across party lines, supported by CSI, to pass this new law.
CSI has partnered with Decarb Connect, a British firm devoted to helping companies decarbonize in particularly challenging sectors. Listen to a podcast of Rhys' conversation about bringing industrial symbiosis to the US.
CSI is particularly excited at the potential for IS to help the manufacturing sector, which Bill Gates recently called one of the most challenging sectors to decarbonize. The Cities of Pasco and Spokane were among the bill’s supporters and are actively exploring IS possibilities now with CSI.
“Embracing industrial symbiosis in Washington – especially on a completely bipartisan basis – represents much more than a new state program. It represents a step away from the age-old ‘or’ approach to economic development, where policies choose which values win at the expense of others. SB 5345 is a big step towards the ‘and’ approach, where our investments and policies are built to advance the interests that matter to all of us: good jobs and a healthy environment and strong communities. Applying the ‘and’ lens to our policies is a great way to build a strong future that includes all of us.”
CSI's Director of Strategic Initiatives
As more communities embrace this approach, with support from the new program at the WA Department of Commerce, CSI is confident other parts of the country will follow suit, leaving behind outdated notions that job creation, community welfare, and environmental sustainability are mutually exclusive.