A P P L I C AT I O N S A N D I M P L E M E N TAT I O N
Industrial symbiosis in the forestry sector
A case study in southern Brazil
Júlia Wahrlich Flávio José Simioni
College of Agriculture and Veterinary Science,
Santa Catarina State University, Santa Catarina,
Industrial symbiosis (IS) is an important concept in the field of industrial ecology that has dissem-
inated worldwide as a practice to decrease the ecological impact of industrial processes through
the exchange of by-products and waste between units in a system. The forestry industry is the
main economic activity in the region of Lages in southern Brazil. IS relationships have expanded
with the use of waste material from wood processing and strengthened cooperation between
companies in different sectors. The aims of this article were to: a) quantify the level of IS in the
system, b) identify the benefits of IS for participants, and c) explain why the network further devel-
oped IS to the formation of an industrial ecosystem. A questionnaire was administered during vis-
its to 24 forestry companies in order to analyze their products and processes, commercial rela-
tions, positive impacts, and local insertion. The industrial symbiosis indicator (ISI) was determined
using waste stream data from the system to represent the level of symbiosis among the compa-
nies in this region. The results show that the companies participate in a symbiotic network, mainly
involving the exchange of chips, bark, sawdust and shavings. In most cases, these exchanges occur
between nearby companies, constituting an extensive industrial ecosystem.
K E Y W O R D S
environmental management, industrial arrangements, industrial ecology, industrial ecosystem,
industrial symbiosis, principal component analysis
Industrial ecology began to appear sporadically in the literature of the 1970s (Erkman, 1997) and the concept re-emerged in the early 1990s with
the acceptance of various resource-sharing and waste-sharing schemes among companies and other organizations, creating a new perspective
in industrial development (Heeres, Vermeulen, & de Walle, 2004; Shi & Chertow, 2017). Industrial ecology promotes the concept of an industrial
system that operates in concert with rather than isolated from surrounding ecosystems, with the aim of optimizing the material flows and cycles
(Chertow, 2000; Heeres et al., 2004).
According to Chertow (2000), industrial ecology can operate on any of three levels: the facility level, the inter-firm level, and the regional or
global level. Industrial symbiosis (IS) occurs on the inter-firm level and involves options for exchanging by-products and other forms of cooperation
among organizations. Industrial Ecosystems (IES) are physical places where IS occurs and represent a means for the use of undesirable by-products
as well as the optimization of production processes. The literature describes the growth of both IS and IES in the past 20 years (Chertow & Park,
As a sub-field of industrial ecology, IS builds on the notion of biological symbiotic relationships in nature and consists of collective resource opti-
mization based on by-product exchanges among different entities (Rahman, Islam, & Islam, 2016; Zhe et al., 2016). By working together, companies
strive for a collective benefit that is greater than the sum of unit benefits that could be achieved by acting singly (Zhu, Lowe, Wei, & Barnes, 2007).
Many of these exchanges enable waste products to enter into other processes, promoting an integrated network of industrial units (Alfaro & Miller,
Journal of Industrial Ecology 2019;1–13. c
2019 by Yale University 1
2 WAHRLICH AND SIMIONI
The concentration of business in local proximity offers a number of economic, environmental, and social benefits (Kurup Stehlik, 2009; Sokka,
Lehtoranta, Nissinen, Melanen, 2011) and creates the opportunity for innovative behaviors (Torre, 2014). With IS, many companies obtain a
collective competitive advantage through physical exchanges of energy, materials, waste, and other by-products (Chertow, 2000), with the con-
sequent improvement in overall resource utilization efficiency (Fraccascia, Albino, Garavelli, 2017). Progress toward developing IS is influenced
by a number of factors, such as the nature of a company’s operations, the industrial history of the region, business pressure, the positioning of
a company considered to be a central agent in the region, as well as the company’s approach to awareness-raising and recruitment (Lombardi
Laybourn, 2012; Zhu et al., 2007). To evaluate the level of IS in a region, the Industrial Symbiosis Indicator (ISI) has been proposed (Felicio, 2013).
ISI uses company and systems level waste stream data to calculate the level of IS in the system.
The literature has identified several IS initiatives in China (Wang, Deutz, Chen, 2016), Europe, especially Italy, Sweden, the UK, Germany,
Denmark, and Portugal (Domenech, Bleischwitz, Doranova, Panayotopoulos, Roman, 2018), and North America (Morales, Diemer, Cervantes,
Carrillo-González, 2018). Regarding IS in the forestry industry, case studies around the world indicate environmental benefits in Finland
(Sokka, Pakarinen, Melanen, 2009), a method for evaluating the quality of industrial synergies in Latvian wood-processing industries (Rosa
Beloborodko, 2014), and the potential for strengthening industrial symbiosis among furniture companies southeastern Brazil (Oliveira, França,
The aims of the present study were to: a) quantify the level of IS in the system, b) identify the benefits of IS for participants, and c) explain why
the network further developed IS to the formation of an industrial ecosystem. The article begins with an overview of the forestry sector in the
Lages region to contextualize synergic relationships involving wood processing waste. The methods section describes the study area as well as
the data collection and analysis procedures. The results and discussion section present the results of the questionnaire and interviews to offer an
understanding of the formation of IES in the forestry sector. The article ends with the concluding remarks on the aspects analyzed.
The development of this study is important for the forest industry to have knowledge of by-products, waste, and companies related to wood
processing as well as the benefits that a cooperation network can bring to the region. With this knowledge, companies can find solutions for their
currently unused by-products and use the by-products of other companies in their production processes.
A study was conducted in five municipalities in the region of Lages in the state of Santa Catarina, southern Brazil (Figure 1), involving segments and
agents that make up the wood industry. According to data from the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics – IBGE (2018), the region covers
a radius of 68 km by road transport, has an area of 6491.12 km2 and an estimated population of 200,000 inhabitants (in 2017).
The region of Lages has favorable conditions mainly for the development of pine forests, concentrating forestry activities, pulp mills, sawmills,
and plywood plants (ACR, 2016). The conditions enable the first harvest to occur seven to eight years after planting for pulp paper and 20 years
for lumber, which constitutes a competitive edge when compared to other countries, where fifty years are required to obtain the same raw material
(Hoff, Simioni, Brand, 2006).
The IS network in the region was amplified by aggregating value to wood processing waste. Hoff, Brand, Rathmann, and Pedrozo (2008) studied
the emergence of an industrial ecosystem in the region, concluding that there was a simple IES with waste exchange occurring between geograph-
ically close organizations. However, the authors glimpsed the prospect of expanding the system, indicating that, in the long term, it could become
an “extensive IES,” with cooperative relations on the local, regional, and national levels. The companies in the IES in 2008 have remained in opera-
tion through the present, and the types of waste generated by them have stayed the same, but the interaction between them increased over time,
aiming at maximizing the waste reused. In addition, new companies have emerged focused on processing waste for energy use.
The field survey began in October 2017. The research strategy involved on-site visits to companies. The methods described by Castro, Lima,
and Silva (2010) and Simioni et al. (2018) were applied for the analysis of productive chains, consisting mainly of an interview plan and meetings to
address issues related to synergies among companies in the forestry sector. In general, the visits involved the following aspects:
1. Presentation: Clarification of the research objectives presented to the company representatives;
2. Knowledge gathering: Investigation of the productive process used by the company;
3. Interviews and questionnaire: The interviews involved unscripted conversations at each company to gain an understanding of how the com-
pany works in the region, its production process, and other issues. A questionnaire was also administered at each company to obtain the nec-
essary information and cover all variables created for the study (Table 1). This questionnaire consisted of items with objective (multiple-choice
answers) and open-ended questions. The creation and validation of the questionnaire (see Supporting Information S1 on the Journal’s website)
involved the assistance of five specialists from the fields of economics, environmental engineering, and forestry engineering to obtain diverse
opinions and contributions as well as enable improvements to the questionnaire. A pilot study was conducted at a company in Lages to test the
methods and adapt the questionnaire for application at the other companies.
WAHRLICH AND SIMIONI 3
FIGURE 1 Geographic location of municipalities that composed the study
TABLE 1 Data categories
Analysis categories Aspects analyzed Literature used
Products and processes Type of waste, amount generated, disposal,
waste assessment as to legislation, class,
use, destination and problems/risks,
evaluation criteria (AHP method),
environmental innovation, sustainable
production practices, cooperative
Felicio (2013); Gossen (2008); Saaty
(2008); Lowe (2001); Jelinski,
Graedel, Laudise, McCall, and
Patel (1992); Giannetti; Almeida
Commercial relations Incentives and limiting factors for
Andrews (1999); Pacheco (2013)
Sustainability Impacts Environmental, social and economic
benefits, employment generation
Kurup; Stehlik (2009); Pacheco
Local insertion Central agent, possibilities of using
by-products, inclusion of new companies,
Jelinski et al. (1992); Lowe (2001);
Pacheco (2013); Roberts (2004)
4. Observation: on-site visit to verify the company processes, involving video recording and photography.
Companies were selected based on information furnished by the trade union of the wood and pulp paper industries of Brazil. Twenty-four agents
from different segments of the forestry sector were interviewed, such as crafted wood products (n = 6), sawmills (n = 5), pulp paper industry
(n = 4), panel companies (n = 3), recycling companies (n = 2), energy production (n = 2), furniture companies (n = 1), and wood processing (n = 1).
Thus, the sample was considered representative because it contemplated the main economic agents and sectors of the studied region (Minayo,
Regarding the analysis of the sustainability benefits, Sendra, Gabarrell, and Vicent (2007) report that many challenges arise when industrial
ecology is applied to industrial areas, and the success of IES depends on many variables, but time and active company participation are crucial to
4 WAHRLICH AND SIMIONI
establish a network. These variables are (Heeres et al., 2004): technical, economic, informational, organizational, and regulatory barriers. In addi-
tion, an EIP would require the active participation from a number of stakeholders: public sector stakeholders from local, regional, and national
government agencies; representatives of local companies; leaders in the industrial and financial community; local chamber of commerce; labor
representatives; educational institutions; practitioners with the full complement of capabilities needed in the project; and community and environ-
in the survey should include: basic company information; products and markets; employee information; raw materials; waste streams; energy;
environment; manufacturing networks; future plans. In addition, the larger the area surveyed, the easier it is to find these types of situations and
the greater the opportunities.
Sendra et al. (2016) show that indicators are capable of structuring and simplifying systems data and allow measuring the constant evolution.
The economic and environmental benefits of IS have been extensively studied from engineering and material exchange perspectives, but there is
relatively fewer studies under the social perspectives (Walls Paquin, 2015). Following Kurup and Stehlik (2009), an evaluation model for IES in
a practical case to measure the benefits of IS in the three dimensions (environmental, social, and economic) was applied. The authors stress the
lack of studies measuring stakeholder relationships and studied the common rules that help organizations and communities work more efficiently.
The authors argue that their method enables identifying the intangible benefits associated with IS as well as a detailed analysis of the impacts of
symbiotic relationships on the community and environment.
Therefore, for this study, a table with the indicators proposed by Kurup and Stehlik (2009) was added to the questionnaire and the following
criteria were attributed for each indicator: “no” benefit, “some” benefit, or “a lot” of benefit.
2.1 Statistical analysis
The responses were tabulated on dynamic spreadsheets (Excel) and these data were submitted to a descriptive analysis of the averages and pro-
portions to enable trend analysis. The data were then submitted to multivariate statistical methods considering the following structural variables,
related to the characteristics of the companies: response variables, that served to separate/differentiate the groups analyzed; and explanatory vari-
ables, which were viewed as consequences of company actions and therefore serve to help explain the data, and for this reason, they were added
later to understand the underlying relationships between variables.
The responses variables were: number of types of forest waste generated (N TYPE), total volume of waste generated (TOT VOL), number of
companies receiving waste and participating in the IES (COMP IN) and those that are outside the IES (COMP OUT). The explanatory variables
were: environmental benefits (Env. B), social benefits (Soc. B), economic benefits (Econ. B), incentives for IS (Inc. IS) and factors that limit IS
(Lim. IS). The amplitude of the data gradient was less than three (0.751), indicating that each variable assumes a linear response with respect to
the axis (gradient) (Leps Smilauer, 2003). According to the same authors, the use of Principal Component Analysis (PCA) is recommended to
answer the following question: What variables are most associated with industrial symbiosis? To answer this question, PCA was carried out consid-
ering two different groups according to the ISI of each company: low industrial symbiosis (ISI = 0 to 1000) and high industrial symbiosis (ISI = above
1000). The number 1000 was defined in order to obtain two groups consistent in terms of ISI, from an initial observation of the amplitude of the ISI
The analysis procedures were made by CANOCO software and were based on Braak and Smilauer (2002) and the explanatory variables were
added later to relate them to the response variables for the visualization of the underlying structure of the data.
2.2 Industrial symbiosis indicator (ISI)
The industrial symbiosis indicator (ISI) depicts the level of symbiosis among the companies of an IES with data resulting from the waste stream. In
this study, this indicator was used to define symbiotic activity for system on the whole.
ISI is composed of the relationship between the amount of by-products reused as raw material and amount of by-products that leaves the
IES (system level), considering the potential environmental impact of each material (Mantese Amaral, 2016). Therefore, the ISI (Equation (1))
increases with the increase in the amount of by-products reused as raw material and decreases with the increase in the amount of discarded by-
product (waste). Its value has no specific meaning and no limit, which is consistent with the concept that symbiosis can never achieve perfection,
but can always be incremented (Felicio, Amaral, Esposto, Durany, 2016).
1 + EIMo
w=1(AiPw x DiPw)
w=1(AoPw x DoPw)
in which (Felicio et al., 2016): EIMi is the inbound environment impact momentum; EIMo is the outbound environment impact momentum; n is the
number and type of by-products involved in the calculation; w is the type of by-product; AiP is the amount of inbound by-product; DiP is the degree
of inbound by-product; AoP is the amount of outbound by-product; and DoP is the degree of outbound by-product.
WAHRLICH AND SIMIONI 5
TABLE 2 Unit conversion of waste analyzed
Material Average density (g.cm−3
Bark 0.265 Simioni (2007)
Chips 0.350 Simioni (2007)
Shavings 0.125 Simioni (2007)
Wood powder 0.300 Companies visited
Sawdust 0.400 Simioni (2007)
TABLE 3 By-product evaluation criteria
Criterion Evaluation of criterion
Legislation (1) Good practices
(3) General requirement
(5) Specific legal requirement
Class of by-product (1) Non-hazardous - inert
(3) Non-hazardous - non-inert
Use of by-product (1) By-product treated by both donor and recipient company
(3) By-product treated by recipient company
(5) By-product treatment not required by either company
Destination of by-product (1) Another IES, with pretreatment
(3) Another IES, without pretreatment
(5) Industrial or sanitary landfill (class I and II)
Problems/risks (1) Nonexistent
Source: adapted from Gossen (2008) and Felicio (2013).
The AiP represents the amount of by-products exchanged among the companies, while AoP represents the amount that leaves the IES bound-
aries without being used (Mantese Amaral, 2016). Felicio et al. (2016) argues that these quantities are measured in tonnes, but some intervie-
wees provided information in cubic meters. In such cases, the data were converted into tonnes based on the average density of each waste product
Because there are several types of by-products, it is necessary to consider the quantities of each by-product taking into account the levels of
toxicity and environmental impacts (Felicio et al., 2016). Although it would be possible to make an impact measurement, it would not be easy to
achieve this. This problem can be solved by including a “weight” variable, a qualitative measure that evaluates each by-product according to the
criteria of qualitative impact criteria, and these weights is called “Degree of Inbound” (DiP) and “Degree of Outbound” (DoP). Table 3 lists the
criteria used for this purpose and the possible evaluations for each criterion (Gossen, 2008).
For the evaluation of the criteria for the calculation of the ISI, “legislation” was classified as a “general requirement,” considering Brazil-
ian Federal Law 12305/10, which establishes the National Solid Waste Policy and stipulates an environmentally appropriate final disposal
of waste, including reuse, composting, recovery, and energy utilization (Brasil, 2010). The “class of by-product” criterion was defined accord-
ing to the Brazilian Standard NBR 10004, which classifies solid waste based on its potential risks to the environment and public health
(ABNT, 2004). Therefore, chips, bark, sawdust, wood powder, and shaving were classified as “non-hazardous-non inert” and ash was classi-
fied as “non-hazardous-inert. The other criteria were included on the questionnaire and a modal was obtained based on the respondents’
Equation (2) was used to calculate the DiP and DoP, for which the user assigns the weight of the criterion.
DP = evaluation of criterion × weight of criterion (2)
in which DP is the degree of by-product (inbound and outbound), “evaluation of criterion” assumes a value of 1, 3, or 5 (presented in Table 3,
and the “weight of criterion” refers to the percentage calculated from the Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP). In this analysis, five criteria were
6 WAHRLICH AND SIMIONI
used and values were assigned according to the fundamental scale of judgment in degree of importance (Saaty, 2008), as can be observed in
In the AHP, the positions of the diagonal will always be 1, whereas an element is equally important to itself. The other elements of the matrix
are compared in paired way according to the degree of importance. In the case of inverse comparisons, that is, in the lower left part of the table,
the reciprocal values are placed in the upper right-hand side of the table. Thus, the values of the columns were summed and the percentage of each
criterion was calculated, obtaining the variable “weight of criterion.” The structure of the AHP is shown in Table 5.
3 RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
3.1 General industrial symbiosis network analysis
The total waste generated in the region of Lages was quantified considering the type of waste and use of the waste (internally, such as in the yard of
the company, donations to employees or return to the production process; and that which is commercialized, including landfill). A greater amount
of waste was sold to other companies due to the business opportunities and economic gains with the waste market in the region. Table 6 shows the
quantities of the main waste generated and respective destinations.
TABLE 4 Fundamental scale of judgment in degree of importance
Fundamental Scale Definition
1 Equal importance
3 Moderate importance of one over another
5 strong or essential importance
7 very strong or demonstrated importance
9 extreme importance
2,4,6,8 intermediate values
Use reciprocals for inverse comparisons
Source: Saaty (2008).
TABLE 5 Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP) to analyze the importance of the criteria
Criterion 2 Class
Criterion 1 Legislation 1
Criterion 2 Class of
Criterion 3 Use/destination
Criterion 4 Problems/risks 1
Source: adapted from Felicio (2013).
TABLE 6 Quantities and destinations of main waste products generated at companies interviewed
Waste Internal use Marketed Destination
Chips 5,270.00 14,476.00 Energy (30.7%); pulp paper industry (34.6%); other (29.7%)
Bark 48.00 4,555.66 Recycling (57.1%); other (42.9%)
Sawdust 0.00 2,000.00 Energy (89.0%); other (11.0%)
Ash 960.80 355.20 Soil recovery (58.33%); industrial/sanitary landfill (25.0%); other (16.67%)
Wood powder 900.00 55.00 Return to the production process (33.33%); other (66.67%)
Shavings 0.00 598.62 Bed for fowl (62.5%); other (37.5%)
Total 7,178.8 22,040.48 –
WAHRLICH AND SIMIONI 7
Regarding waste exchanges among companies, the answers to the questionnaire according to the categories of analysis are discussed below:
3.1.1 Environmental innovation
It is important to determine the source of ideas for product and process innovations for the best reuse of by-products and waste, as it enables
an understanding of the origin of the development of technologies for the closure of the cycle. Studies of Walls and Paquin (2015) emphasize
that innovation is directly related to learning, and for this reason, companies often need to be in a cyclical process of awareness, cooperation,
and internalization of IS as an intervention action for competitive advantage and change management. In the companies interviewed, the answers
indicated that the source of innovation comes mostly from within the company (46%), but from sectors other than “research and development,”
since many companies do not have this sector. Approximately 35% of the responses indicated that the ideas originate outside the company, that
is, many companies began to participate in this cycle closure when they perceived a business opportunity for their waste and the need to innovate
processes and products to be able to reuse this material.
Therefore, a lack of internalization was found regarding efforts toward innovation through the expansion of exchanges of by-products. It
is possible to imagine an innovation network or even a sector-wide innovation system (companies, funding agencies, universities, public and
private research institutes) created to develop new techniques and products, explore synergies, and share knowledge on the process of industrial
3.1.2 Sustainable production practices
The interviewees were asked about sustainable production practices and demonstrated concern with minimizing the waste of resources (26%),
waste management (24%), and eco-efficiency issues (23%).
3.1.3 Incentive factors for cooperation
The greatest incentive was adaptation to the market. The companies are aware of the existing market in the region for the waste they generate
and adapt by supplying the material. Internal management was another factor mentioned as a facilitator of IS. This new management model is
being disseminated in companies and there is an internal concern with regard to finding a more adequate destination for the waste they generate,
which often involves the innovation of products and processes. The respondents also mentioned the demands of other companies and favorable
organizational climate as incentives, as the waste market in the region remains active and there is considerable demand on the part of companies
that need waste products for their production processes.
3.1.4 Limiting factors for cooperation
as Yanagihara and Bragagnolo (2018), and the need for better highways and access to the railroad system for the improvement of logistics. The sec-
ond most important issue raised was the few resources available for investing in IS projects and technologies for the best reuse of waste products.
Accordingly, the lack of adequate technology was also mentioned, accounting for 15% of the responses. The same number of responses addressed
the lack of legislative incentive and lack of research in IS. This issue was also raised in the study by Mota and Abreu (2015), who researched barriers
to IS and found that uncertainties in environmental legislation and difficulties in obtaining IS projects may be an obstacle to possible synergies. Also
regarding the lack of legislative incentive, Oberlaender (2016) states that government policies should act as facilitators of IS to provide support,
coordination, and infrastructure to industries. Brand and Bruijn (1999) found that government environmental policies, trust, and intercompany
communication often become a significant obstacle to the development of potential synergy.
On a smaller scale, a lack of knowledge of the market was another factor mentioned. The respondents stated that some companies do not have
overall knowledge of the operation of the industrial complex in the region, which creates barriers to the exchange of waste products. Moreover,
four respondents brought up issues that were not addressed on the questionnaire, such as the few companies available in the region that can
reuse waste and by-products, competition with other companies supplying waste, a lack of partners in the region, and a lack of incentives that raise
awareness with regard to minimizing the amount of waste in the landfill. Oberlaender (2016) found similar results at a petrochemical complex in
the state of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, identifying the following main barriers in the region: a lack of communication and trust among representatives
of local and regional industries, a lack of information on waste that can be reused, the low costs of final disposal, the distance between companies,
and a lack of government representatives.
3.1.5 Possibilities of using by-products
It is important for the trade arrangement to be concentrated in space, since geographical proximity facilitates and stimulates IS by proportionally
reducing the costs of the storage and transportation of by-products (Pacheco, 2013), whereas greater distances make the reuse of waste less
attractive. It is therefore essential for the location for the reuse of waste to be as close as possible to the point where it is generated. In the present
8 WAHRLICH AND SIMIONI
study, most companies that can recycle waste are close to each other and belong to the same industrial complex. However, in the perception of the
majority of respondents, the companies that can reuse the waste generated are restricted to a few industrial branches, such as energy production
and pulp paper production.
3.1.6 Employment generation
The vast majority of respondents (79%) mentioned the limited availability of skilled labor in the region. Although qualification is not necessary
in most cases, it was argued that there is a difficulty in finding people who are willing to work or are diligent. The majority of interviewees also
reported that having a job creation policy, which is similar to findings described by Martin and Harris (2018), and seek to hire local residents, since
they consider it important to prioritize the local workforce. Moreover, fifteen respondents provided data on the percentage of job rotation and,
in two thirds of the cases, turnover is less than 10% per year, mainly when small companies are considered. On the other hand, one third of the
responses were that turnover is greater than 10% per year when considering medium and large companies.
3.1.7 Local development
Approximately 46% of the companies responded that they contribute to local development, such as carrying out environmental education projects,
community aid (wood donations, building houses), hospital reform, assistance to schools, the revitalization of public squares, contributions to
leisure activities, sponsorship of events, the recovery of natural springs, and activities during environmental week, which is in July in Brazil.
3.1.8 Central agent
The central agent is that which facilitates exchanges among the various actors involved in the arrangement (Pacheco, 2013). As mentioned above,
the energy co-generator was installed in the region with the purpose of using the waste generated by the surrounding companies, serving as the
central agent of the synergic network for some years (Hoff et al., 2008). Currently, with the combination of factors such as knowledge of the regional
market, the need for proper waste disposal, and the various partnerships and commercial agreements between companies, 58% of the interviewees
considered both the energy co-generator and a pulp paper company as the central elements for the closure of the cycle due to the fact that both
have a high demand for forestry by-products in their production processes and have partnerships with many timber companies in the region.
3.1.9 Inclusion of new companies
Another issue regarded space for the entrance of new companies wishing to participate in the industrial complex and establish new partnerships
with potential paths of symbiotic integration. The vast majority of responses (83%) were positive and some respondents pointed out the many
business opportunities for few timber companies, given the large amount of raw material in the region.
3.2 Industrial symbiosis indicator
Regarding the result of the AHP matrix, the calculation of the consistency ratio (CR) is recommended, which should be within the limit of 0.1 pro-
posed by Saaty (2008) for the comparison of four elements. In the present study, the CR was 0.26, which characterized the consistency of the final
(52.93%), followed by class of by-product (21.55%), use/destination of by-product (20.99%), and legislation (4.53%).
The AiP and AoP were extracted from the responses to the questionnaire, obtaining 34,434.75 t.month−1 of waste circulating within the IES
and 1,878.29 t.month−1 of waste leaving the IES. Therefore, the EIMi was 80,837.40 t.month−1 and the EIMo was 3,255.89 t.month−1. The ISI for
the region was 22.18. According to Felicio et al. (2016), this indicator does not have an upper limit (maximum symbiosis value), since it is a real and
infinite scale that can increase continually as the level of symbiosis increases and new companies are added to the park. However, this indicator
shows that the internal waste stream is much larger than the external one, that is, practically all waste generated in the IES is being reused within
the park itself and little waste is leaving, considering both the quantitative and qualitative aspects of the indicator.
3.3 IES case study
Figure 2 illustrates the IES of the Lages region, which is composed of many companies that sell waste and companies that use this waste as raw
material in their production process. The internal part of the schematic refers to the forestry sector studied. Some companies are nearby, but are
part of other complexes. Companies that are farther away and do not belong to the IES are located outside the schematic.
At first, this industrial arrangement occurred intentionally with the opening of the energy co-generator, and was not considered an industrial
park, as there were only some sales of waste to the energy cogenerator company, with the purpose of allocating the wood waste from nearby
companies. Over the years, other partnerships have been forged with a focus on reducing economic costs and the better allocation of the waste
generated. Companies from other branches of activity (pulp paper, recycling, furniture, crafted wood products (furniture, utensils, toys, etc.),
WAHRLICH AND SIMIONI 9
Pulp and paper
IES OFLAGES REGION
Wastethat circulatesin the IES
Wastethat leavesthe IES
Companiesbelonging to the IES
Companiesthat do notbelong to IES,but areinserted in the region
Companiesthat do notbelong to IES
Pulp andpaper industry
FIGURE 2 IES of Lages region
sawmills, and plywood) have begun to participate in this network of synergies. The most shared by-products are chips, bark, and sawdust, which are
mainly used for energy production. Therefore, this IES is characterized by companies scattered throughout a region that have various cooperation
According to Chertow (2000) and Marquez Júnior (2014), the exchange of waste that is used as raw material in other companies is mutually
beneficial. For some, it is the proper destination option, because before the exchange of waste, they were considered “trash,” since they had no one
to sell and had open dumping areas near the company (including combustion processes). For others, it corresponds to the raw material for energy
generation. There was evidence of opportunities for earnings among the actors involved in the study, such as physical structure sharing and joint
service provision, which Chertow (2008) considers to be important to the analysis of revenue opportunities.
The exchanges observed in the present study allow us to conclude that the IS of the region is in stage 3 (“embeddedness and institutionalization”),
with the intentionally driven network expansion, which validates a new industrial environment and produces positive environmental results.
Regarding to the characterization of the IS types proposed by Chertow (2000), the industrial complex is classified as type III, as the companies
are located in the same place or industrial park, enabling exchanges with the intention of obtaining a more cyclical material flow with fewer losses.
However, advances can be seen toward type IV, which enables fully functioning synergies, allowing companies outside the system to connect to the
material cycle as long as they have waste that can maintain or improve the symbiotic system.
Using the terms proposed by Shrivastava (1995), the IES of the Lages region is considered “extensive,” since cooperative relations with a large
number of organizations that extend to local and regional levels were observed. This is a large change in comparison to the IES analyzed by Hoff et al.
(2008), which was considered “simple,” with exchanges involving a limited group of organizations geographically close to the energy co-generator.
Moreover, the observed inter-organizational arrangement is very close to the ideas established by industrial ecology; besides being considered
innovative, there is an orientation to structure production with environmental issues that guide the chain of activities.
Regarding the impacts of the network synergy (Table 7), environmental, social, and economic benefits were analyzed to determine the positive
benefits that the waste synergies in recent years have had on the environment, local community, and companies themselves.
The answers regarding environmental benefits indicated that waste exchanges did not representatively enable a reduction in water contamina-
tion, dust emission, or noise. In contrast, the conservation and security of resources were benefits obtained in most companies, reducing the need
for resources and the weight of the economic system on the environment. Lowe (2001) also lists these factors as potential benefits of an IES.
Partnerships between companies and local citizens enable incorporating local cultural values into economic development and environmental
management programs (Moraes, 2007). The cited social benefits in the region were the exchange of information between companies and the
increase in productivity. The community was also reported to benefit in the form of employment opportunities.
10 WAHRLICH AND SIMIONI
TABLE 7 Indicators of environmental, social, and economic benefits
Dimension Indicators “None” “Some” “A lot”
Environmental benefits (35%) Resource conservation 8.33 37.50 54.17
Resource security 8.33 29.17 62.50
Decreased water contamination 39.13 26.09 34.78
Decreased dust emission 41.67 41.67 16.67
Decreased noise 54.17 25.00 20.83
Social benefits (33%) Information sharing between companies 8.33 29.17 62.50
Increased productivity 8.33 29.17 62.50
Employment opportunities 16.67 41.67 41.67
Sharing of infrastructure and technology 29.17 50.00 20.83
Sharing of human resources 33.33 41.67 25.00
Investment in research and development 41.67 37.50 20.83
Perception of communities with regard to environmental health 43.48 26.09 30.43
Opportunities for public relations 41.67 29.17 29.17
Networking between industries and communities 50.00 20.83 29.17
Level of understanding about IS projects in the community 58.33 33.33 8.33
Environmental projects with the community 70.83 4.17 25.00
Communication about the IS project in the community 70.83 12.50 16.67
Economic benefits (32%) Business opportunities 8.33 50.00 41.67
Improvement in infrastructure 16.67 41.67 41.67
Decrease in equipment costs 29.17 41.67 29.17
Decrease in cost of future liabilities 29.17 37.50 33.33
Decrease in labor costs 41.67 25.00 33.33
Decrease in cost of raw materials 45.83 25.00 29.17
Decrease in costs related to fines 69.57 13.04 17.39
Notes: 1. Number of responses: 24.
2. The percentage participation in each dimension was defined based on the weighting of responses, considering the number of indicators proposed by Kurup
and Stehlik (2009).
The results of the analysis revealed that the companies do not have much communication with the community regarding environmental aware-
ness or the development of IS projects aimed at minimizing waste and improving the quality of life of the population. Therefore, the indicator of
population awareness as a benefit of the synergies was seen in the poorest light by the interviewees.
In order to be competitive and provide products in constant evolution, it is important for the company to invest in the research and development
sector. However, approximately 80% of the companies responded that they do not make such an investment. This may be related to the same
reason that Hoff and Simioni (2004) discuss, since most of the companies visited were sawmills with very similar infrastructure (shed and old sawing
machines) and no significant advances in the technology employed in terms of either the product or process.
Regarding to the economic benefits, Mota and Abreu (2015) state that synergistic linkages enable a positive economic outcome and economic
viability can result in increased revenues, lower production costs, and lower operating costs. New business opportunities through partnerships,
often with differentiated interests (products, structure, and information), and improvements in infrastructure for a more efficient use of resources
were the main economic benefits cited by the companies. However, indicators related to cost reductions were the least cited as benefits directly
associated with the synergies, since the respondents stated that they did not see any difference in costs resulting from the exchanges.
In general, the three dimensions were proportional, with the awareness that the constitution of the industrial park has brought positive results
to the region. The environmental benefits were noticed slightly more (35%), indicating that the exchange of waste and by-products between the
partner companies has had a positive impact on the environment through the reduction in the use of natural resources and the obtainment of a
more cyclical flow of waste, with the minimization of improper disposal and disposal as close as possible to the company that generates the waste.
Considering several variables analyzed in this study, PCA was used to understand how these variables are related (Figure 3). A clear separation
was found between the groups (companies with high and low IS), revealing different behaviors. A low level of IS was strongly associated with the
number of companies outside the IES that receive this waste and, to a lesser extent, the number of different types of waste generated in each
company. A high level of IS was more associated with the total volume of waste generated and the number of companies within the IES that receive
WAHRLICH AND SIMIONI 11
Samples: LIS HIS
PC 1 (62.7%)
FIGURE 3 Relationships between response/explanatory variables and low/high industrial symbiosis (LIS/HIS). Underlying data used to create
this figure can be found in Supporting Information S2. PC = principal component
the waste. This is explained by the fact that these variables increase the level of IS in the ISI calculation, since a larger the volume of waste destined
for the companies in the region (internal flow) results in a higher value than that in the occurrence of external flow.
The other variables (benefits in general as well as incentives and limiting factors for the network of synergies) did not demonstrate a tendency
toward either low or high IS, that is, no significant difference in these factors were found between companies that perform more exchanges and
those that have fewer exchanges.
This paper aimed to analyze IS relationships among forest industry companies in the region of Lages. Thus, it can be verified that these organiza-
tions established exchange relationships mainly for wood chips, bark, sawdust, and shavings. The issue of synergy is increasingly important to the
companies and ideas for innovation regarding products and processes arise within the companies with the aim of eco-efficiency, waste manage-
ment, and minimizing the waste of resources. The incentive for companies to cooperate with each other is market adequacy, internal management,
and the favorable organizational climate for exchanges, and what limits this cooperation is the poor logistics, few resources to invest in IS projects
and a lack of adequate technology for better use of waste and by-products.
The companies that can recycle waste are geographically close to each other and belong to the same industrial complex. However, a greater
number of companies are needed to use the waste generated, as trade remains restricted to a few industrial sectors, such as energy production
and pulp paper, which have market power and define price. The sustainability benefits of Lages’ IES were roughly equivalent. The environmental
positive environmental changes, reducing the use of natural resources and minimizing the inadequate disposal of waste. Already the economic
benefits were mainly due to new partnerships and the most talked about social benefits were about increasing cooperation in the exchange of
information and increase of productivity.
12 WAHRLICH AND SIMIONI
The case study presented may contribute more broadly: it can be shown to stakeholders, that is, companies that participate in a forest-based
industry network, to understand what changes occur in a region, and what are their influences to the region; or assisting in the formulation of
public policies throughout forest-based industry and the application of this method in other studies, thereby contributing to the advancement in
knowledge on IS. Future investigations should analyze the evolution of IS in the sector to monitor and evaluate how it could be further supported
in the region. Besides that, a diagnosis of the material and energy flows could also be performed.
The authors are grateful for the support from companies in the Lages region for allowing visits to their companies and contributing data.
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
The authors declare no conflict of interest.
Flávio José Simioni https://orcid.org/0000-0002-6392-5073
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How to cite this article: Wahrlich J, Simioni FJ. Industrial symbiosis in the forestry sector: A case study in southern Brazil. J Ind Ecol. 2019;
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