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Bipartisan Leadership in Washington Delivers Industrial Symbiosis Policy Breakthroughs

Industrial symbiosis converts waste into economic value and slashes pollution

Industrial symbiosis (IS), pioneered in Denmark, is a ground-breaking, triple-bottom-line approach to infrastructure and economic development, where one sector’s wastes – energy, water, materials – become valuable resources for other businesses.


Since 2017, the Center for Sustainable Infrastructure (CSI) has joined three dozen Washington state legislators – evenly distributed between Republicans and Democrats -- on study tours in Denmark where they observed IS in action. These bipartisan legislators found significant common ground in seeing the potential to adapt Denmark’s IS model to benefit a wide range of Washington communities, supporting substantial economic, environmental, and social benefits for Washingtonians.

Working collaboratively, these legislators have led successful efforts in six consecutive legislative sessions, making strategic investments to seed and grow IS in Washington. In 2021 they launched the nation’s first statewide IS program at the Department of Commerce. In the 2022 and 2023 legislative sessions, they secured over $9 million in new investments for IS programs and projects.


Spring 2023 update:

During the 2023 session, the WA House Environment & Energy Committee invited CSI to participate in a work session focused specifically on Washington's emerging Industrial Symbiosis landscape. Committee members were very engaged on both sides of the aisle. Learn about Washington Industrial Symbiosis projects and view the full work session here.

Related links:

- Agriculture Symbiosis

- WA Commerce IS Program


Initially funded in 2021 at $500,000, in 2022 Washington's IS program budget increased to over $2 million in ongoing funding for each future biennium. In addition, CSI proposed and bipartisan legislators stepped up to secure $500,000 in the 2022 Washington State supplemental budget to launch a new Agriculture Symbiosis initiative. This funding enabled CSI to work with Washington State University (WSU) and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) to identify new opportunities for cost savings and additional revenue streams for farmers and food processors across Washington.


Agriculture Symbiosis (AS) weaves industries together to capture economic value from waste while cutting waste and costs and reducing climate impacts. CSI, with WSU and PNNL, delivered these recommendations during the summer of 2023, in a report to the Washington legislature titled Increasing the Economic Value and Sustainability of Washington’s Agriculture Sector Through Industrial Symbiosis.


Then in the fall, CSI led an AS Study Tour in Denmark for Washington’s public and private leaders. The delegation, including a bipartisan group of 9 state legislators, learned how Danes are advancing the principles of industrial symbiosis to benefit the economic value and competitiveness of the agriculture sector, and improve its sustainability performance, at the same time.  



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. 

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.

Decarb Connect Podcast.png

CSI 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.

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