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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) 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 over two dozen bipartisan Washington state lawmakers in 2017, 2018, and 2019 through tours of Kalundborg, Denmark, put on by Seattle's i-SUSTAIN and made possible with the generous support of the Scan Design Foundation.

Since 2017, CSI has worked with the WA legislature to stand up a statewide 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. But legislators returned in 2021 to pass SB 5345, which was signed by the governor and launched the new IS program at the Department of Commerce. 


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

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Less than a year after bipartisan legislators to established the nation’s first Industrial Symbiosis program, they increased state investment in the program significantly.

Initially funded in 2021 at $500,000, in 2022 they increased that 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 Agricultural Symbiosis (Ag Symbiosis) initiative.

Ag Symbiosis – a concept we helped import from Denmark – converts waste into economic value for agriculture producers and processors, conserves valuable resources, and slashes pollution.

Washington now has an opportunity to pioneer this approach to generating higher value, creating good new jobs, and securing sustainability in our agricultural economy.

This funding has enabled CSI to work with Washington State University (WSU) to develop recommendations for standing up a first-of-its-kind Ag Symbiosis initiative designed to sustain Washington’s agriculture economy, and the land and water it depends on.

CSI and WSU delivered these recommendations in a report to the Washington legislature during the summer of 2023. Then in the fall, CSI led a new 2023 Study Tour to Denmark, inspired by the report, with Washington Ag Symbiosis stakeholders and has continued to build upon the momentum generated by the report and study tour, going into the 2024 legislative session.



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.

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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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