Elaine Kerr, Deputy Director of International Synergies Northern Ireland talks about industrial symbiosis and how it ‘oils the wheels’ of the circular economy. Elaine explains what industrial symbiosis is, and how International Synergies provides research and facilitation for ‘resource matching’, helping organisations of all types and sizes. We discuss the multiple benefits of industrial symbiosis: reducing waste and pollution (and associated costs); creating valuable new by-products, jobs, and social value; together with securing access to future resources by setting up local ‘ecosystems’ for materials. Creating new, local feedstocks from redundant resources can also bring widespread benefits for the local economy, helping improve economic prosperity and resilience. We talk about changing attitudes and the ways young entrepreneurs and social enterprises are creating value from what we used to think of as ‘waste’.
Social benefits from circular approaches, including regeneration of local resources, creating jobs for disadvantaged or excluded groups, social enterprises, and so on.
Adam Fairweather and his partner Rosalie McMillan run Smile Plastics, a circular economy business that reimagines local waste streams to make beautiful materials for the built environment. We talk about Adam’s approach to design, and his ethos that ‘material language’ can communicate messages to people through design, creating socially, emotionally and industrially durable products. We explore some of the wide range of projects Adam has been involved in over the last couple of decades. Adam tells us about his plans for decentralised manufacturing, forming an industrial ecosystem to reimagine waste.