Skip to main content

Feasibility of Industrial Symbiosis in Italy as an Opportunity for Economic Development: Critical Success Factor Analysis, Impact and Constrains of the Specific Italian Regulations


Many examples of symbiosis processes studied within the context of industrial research could be applied in Italian productive system, so as to make related environmental improvement an attractive process for industrial stakeholders. By now, Industrial Symbiosis is not systematically applied because of some difficulties mainly related to regulations and to a culture of collaboration (among companies, and between companies and industrial research world) that must still be further developed. The purpose of this paper is to evaluate the existing opportunities in the Emilia-Romagna territory and to analyze in terms of methodology and results some useful experiences and realized and ongoing projects in this area for the development of the regional system, intended to apply Industrial Symbiosis and to spread a circular economy approach. Pilot projects, undertaken or in progress in Emilia-Romagna region, are described and analyzed in terms of methodology and results. They aim to study the potential for the application of circular economy by closing production cycles The regulatory framework at national and regional level is analyzed in order to identify critical points and obstacles to the diffusion of Industrial Symbiosis practices. The paper analysis method also includes the evaluation of the opportunities resulting from European funding programmes and from national strategies related to the new European Cohesion Policy. The results of this study, based at different levels of analysis (background experiences, regulatory framework and strategic opportunities) are territorial guidelines, useful for Emilia-Romagna institutions to approach Industrial Symbiosis methodology. This method has been also suggested within the waste plan of Emilia-Romagna Region as interesting and “useful to the reduction of industrial waste quantity”. As a conclusion, symbiosis has been proved to be a quite effective tool to create new economic growth opportunities: regional and national policies, together with technical experts and entrepreneurs, must work towards the completion of cycles within the production system, in order to foster circular economy. It is needed an effort by all actors of the process (especially institutions) in order to overcome regulatory and cultural issues.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3


  1. Chertow, M.R.: Industrial symbiosis: literature and taxonomy. Annu. Rev. Energy Environ. 25, 313–337 (2000)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Lombardi, D.R., Laybourn, P.: Redefining industrial symbiosis. J. Ind. Ecol. 16(1), 28–37 (2012)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Laybourn, P., Lombardi, R.: Industrial symbiosis in European policy: overview of recent progress. J. Ind. Ecol. 16(1), 11–12 (2012)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Iacondini A., Schiefer A., Passarini F., Vassura I., Morselli L.: La simbiosi industriale come opportunità nella realizzazione delle aree produttive ecologicamente attrezzate. “XIV Congresso nazionale di chimica dell’ambiente e dei beni culturali—La chimica nella società sostenibile” Proc. (2013)

  5. Iacondini A., Passarini F., Vassura I., Morselli L.: Applicabilità in Italia della simbiosi industriale come opportunità per lo sviluppo delle Aree Produttive Ecologicamente Attrezzate (APEA). Ecomondo 2013 Proc. (2013)

  6. Regione Emilia-Romagna: S3 Emilia-Romagna regional policies. (2014). Accessed 25 Mar 2014

  7. Regione Emilia-Romagna: Indirizzi per la programmazione 2014-2020 dei fondi comunitari in Emilia-Romagna—Quadro Strategico Regionale. (2014). Accessed 30 Mar 2015

  8. European Commission: climate action, environment, resource efficiency and raw materials. Accessed 30 Mar 2015

  9. European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT)—Knowledge and Innovation Community on Climate. Accessed 30 Mar 2015

  10. ASTER S. Cons. p.A: Progetto “Green—Simbiosi Industriale—Modelli di gestione integrata, sostenibile e innovativa delle aree produttive: filiere per il trattamento e la valorizzazione di biomassa da scarti agro-industriali”. (2014). Accessed 30 Mar 2015

  11. Cutaia L., Morabito R., Barberio G., Mancuso E., Brunori C., Spezzano P., Mione A., Mungiguerra C., Li Rosi O. and Cappello F.: The project for the implementation of the industrial symbiosis platform in Sicily: the progress after the first year of operation. Pathways to Environmental Sustainability (Eds.) XXIII, ISBN 978-3-319-03825-4 (2014)

  12. European Bioplastics—Institute for Bioplastics and Biocomposites: Bioplastics facts and figures. (2013). Accessed 30 Mar 2015

  13. Enriquez-Cabot, J.: Genomics and the world’s economy. Sci. Mag. 281, 925–926 (1998)

    Google Scholar 

  14. Plastice Project: Innovative value chain development for sustainable plastics in Central Europe. (2013). Accessed 30 Mar 2015

  15. Regione Emilia-Romagna: Piano Regionale di Gestione dei Rifiuti. (2014). Accessed 30 March 2015

  16. Provincia di Rimini: CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) Project. (2013). Accessed 30 March 2015

  17. Hayden, J., Buck, D.: Doing community supported agriculture: tactile space, affect and effects of membership. Geoforum 43, 332–341 (2012)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. UK Government: Environmental management—Waste. Accessed 18 Dec 2014

  19. WRAP—Waste & Resources Action Programme: Quality Protocol, Compost—End of waste criteria for the production and use of quality compost from source-segregated biodegradable waste from landfill, Waste & Resources Action Programme (2012)

  20. Vogli L., Iacondini A., Marcheselli L., Merloni E., Neri E.: Bio-based, high added value products from biomass by-products and waste: investigating a specific area of interest for Emilia-Romagna region. Ecomondo 2014 Proc. (2014)

Download references


This work was carried out by CIRI Energia e Ambiente and Aster S. Cons. P.A., with the support of Emilia-Romagna High Technology Network within the POR FESR 2007-2013 funding. The study was also supported by the Climate-KIC—Pioneers into Practice programme. Thanks to Luca Marcheselli, Eva Merloni, Esmeralda Neri, Sara Picone and Luciano Vogli. Thanks also to Martina Lodi for her contribution. Thanks also to Roberta Laghi (Provincia di Rimini) and Giancarlo Arlotti (AUSER Rimini) for their valuable suggestions and helpfulness on the CSA project, and to Adrian Murphy and Rachel Lombardi (International Synergies Ltd.), highly knowledgeable teachers and extremely kind hosts, for their support during the surveys on the British legislative scene.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Antonella Iacondini.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Iacondini, A., Mencherini, U., Passarini, F. et al. Feasibility of Industrial Symbiosis in Italy as an Opportunity for Economic Development: Critical Success Factor Analysis, Impact and Constrains of the Specific Italian Regulations. Waste Biomass Valor 6, 865–874 (2015).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


  • Industrial Symbiosis
  • Waste recovery
  • Recycle
  • Waste regulatory framework
  • End of life
  • Agriculture