Industrial Symbiosis & Green Skill Development

International Climate Change Adaptation & Resilience Program (ICCARP)

Other Sustainable Transformation Initiatives


Industrial Symbiosis is a subset of industrial ecology. It is an innovative approach that brings together companies from different sectors in an effort to promote the up-cycling of waste resources, improvement of resource efficiency and reduction of environmental impact, by delivering benefits to all participating industries.

Industrial Symbiosis is commonly associated to Industrial Ecology to promote circular economy, as it mimics the nature in an industrial environment. This business model recreates an ecosystem where the industrial actors actively share resources and wastes with enlightened self interest.

“Industrial ecology focus at the inter-firm level, and at the regional or global level, but industrial symbiosis occurs at the inter-firm level because it includes exchange resources among several industrial actors”

The underutilized (logistics, capacity, expertise, energy, equipment) or waste resources (by-products, residues, water, and materials) of one industry becomes a resource for another, with the outcome of keeping such resources in a productive manner, exhibits symbiotic relationship, i.e. neither of the party is a loser. The industries involved in these kinds of synergies through exchanges achieve economic, environmental and social benefits. In reality, the companies may benefit from reduced operational costs, reduced taxes, job creation, reduced emissions of CO2, reduced waste generation.

Industrial symbiosis paves ways for Green growth, since by implication all sectors and industries focus on green parameters, such as resource efficiency, in all areas from production to recycling and reuse and positive environmental impact. Green growth means fostering development and economic growth while ensuring that natural assets continue to provide the resources and environmental services on which our well-being relies. For industrial symbiosis innovation underpin sustained growth and give rise to new opportunities.

Industrial symbiosis also reflects “circular economy” because from production to consumption it creates as little economic loss as possible, and the majority of the materials, and the resources used in production processes can be reused or recycled (up-cycling or down-cycling).

“Up-cycling converts a material into something of greater value than it originally was, whereas Down-cycling converts into something of less value than it originally was”.

In rural India, the business operates towards different industries, which are agriculture, forest, and hand-loom industries. The purpose of concentrating in rural economy is to make fewer people living under the poverty line due to the job opportunities. There are different forms of rural enterprises:

  • community-based organizations
  • self-help groups
  • cooperatives

With regard to village industries (agro/ forest/ hand-loom/ handicrafts) within India, the Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) is an apex organization under the Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, which seeks to - "plan, promote, facilitate, organize and assist in the establishment and development of khadi and village industries in the rural areas in coordination with other agencies engaged in rural development.

From industrial symbiosis to village industries to climate change adaptation, green kill development is needed to polish their skills such as awareness, technology, innovation, communication, teamwork, problem-solving etc.

Green skills contribute to preserving or restoring environmental quality for sustainable future and include jobs that protect ecosystems and biodiversity, reduce energy and minimize waste and pollution.- MoEF&CC

India being the second most populous country in the world, bestowed with a large working population. High drop-out rates from school coupled with poor vocational skills hinder tapping this potential, due to the existing demand-supply gap of skill sets, both cognitive and practical, at various levels in the environment/ forest/ agriculture/ climate change fields in India. To fill the gap, APSCC has launched the program “Industrial Symbiosis, Revitalizing Village Industries for Sustenance & Green Skill Development” with Re-fabricating Approach was conceptualized, in the series of nation building & reversing the loss of biodiversity program

Complements the following SDGs