Place’In, a web-based tool for planning and costing circular economy strategies, is an EIT Climate-KIC Pathfinder project led by French energy firm Engie.

The problem

The traditional linear economic model – also known as the take-make-dispose model – is inherently unsustainable. An estimated 90 per cent of manufacturing raw materials become waste before the product even leaves the factory, while around 80 per cent of new products are disposed of within six months of purchase. This waste often ends up in landfill or is incinerated, producing further greenhouse gases and other pollutants.

In 2015, the European Commission launched a Circular Economy Package to help businesses move away from the make-take-dispose economic model towards a circular economic model. In the latter, the maximum value of raw materials is extracted through a process called industrial symbiosis, in which the waste products from one industry become the raw materials for the other. This reduces costs, raw material consumption, energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.

Industrial parks present ideal opportunities for industrial symbiosis. While software packages to enable this already exist, they are highly specialised and require training to use.

The solution

Place’In began in 2016 as a Climate-KIC Pathfinder project set up to examine the business case for building industrial symbiosis into the design and planning of industrial parks.

Delphine Antoniucci, project manager at French energy company Engie and the Place’In project lead says, “We wanted to show land planners and managers that they could save money by implementing industrial symbiosis, as well as reducing their environmental impact.”

Engie worked with two industrial parks – Inspira, near Grenoble in France, and Höchst Industrial Park, near Frankfurt in Germany – as well as with CRG, the École Polytechnique’s management research centre, and German business school Provadis, which conducted market research and collected data.

The result is Be Circle, a simple online tool for park managers to plan their sites and attract new businesses. It can also be used by businesses looking to relocate to identify opportunities for symbiosis within prospective industrial parks.

The impact

Be Circle enables industrial park managers and their clients to connect and plan circularity into their production systems, accelerating the circular economy.

Greater implementation of industrial symbiosis across the EU could save businesses €1.4 billion a year and generate €1.6 billion in additional sales, according to the European Commission report, Roadmap to a Resource Efficient Europe.

EIT Climate KIC’s involvement

As well as accessing funding as a Pathfinder project, Place’In was able to leverage EIT Climate-KIC’s network of partners, including CRG and Provadis, to ensure the market research was as broad as possible.

“Climate-KIC has been advising us throughout the project’s progress – in terms of the project management and strategy, and in making sure the climate impact will be addressed and monitored in an interesting way,” says Antoniucci. “And it has helped us be sure about the scalability of what we are developing. We have the ambition to develop a tool that could be used worldwide.”