Denmark's industrial symbiosis in the town of Kalundborg was recently awarded an international prize for its circular economy approach
The city of Kalundborg in West Zealand, Denmark, houses one of the country’s biggest industrial clusters. Here, large Danish companies such as Novozymes runs a large-scale enzyme production, Novo Nordisk operates the world’s biggest insulin factory, and Ørsted runs a power plant located closely to Equinor’s oil refining facility.
Since 1972, waste streams from these and more companies are turned into resources for other companies, as part of a circular collaboration known as the Kalundborg Symbiosis. It’s a partnership that includes a total of eight public and private companies in Kalundborg.
In 2018, the Symbiosis has recently been awarded the Win Win Gothenburg Sustainability Award, for its outstanding sustainable contributions to production.
“As a pioneer within the field, the Kalundborg Symbiosis has shown the way for many other industrial clusters, inspiring businesses all around the world,” the award committee stated.
The award includes a prize of 1 million Swedish Kroners. Previous winners include Kofi Annan, Al Gore and Gro Harlem Brundtland.
“The award recognizes the work that the Symbiosis and the companies have done over the years,” says Jes Tobiassen, director at Novozymes and Vice Chairman of the Board for The Symbiosis.
Circular economy in reality
After more than 45 years of continued collaboration, the industrial symbiosis of Kalundborg shares 25 different resources, from fresh water and biogas to gypsum. This helps to reduce CO2 emissions by 635,000 tons per year, creating annual savings of DKK 182 million for the companies involved, and DKK 106 million in socio-economic value.
“The latest addition is that we’ve started using our residual biomass in a large-scale production of biogas,” Jes Tobiassen says. “The biomass will also be used as fertiliser on local fields, as it has been for many years. It’s a doubling up of the reuse of by-products and adds new streams to the ecosystem. It’s an amazing real-life example of the circular economy.”
The new biogas plant is run and operated by Kalundborg Bioenergi and receives its input from Novozymes and Novo Nordisk’s production. The new biogas plant can supply up to 5,000 Danish homes with green power and heating, resulting in a CO2 reduction of approx. 17,000 tons per year.
Novozymes and the Symbiosis
- Novozymes and Novo Nordisk deliver 300,000 tons of biomass per year, in Kalundborg. This is converted into biogas for power and heating, and the biomass is used as fertilizer on local fields.
- All of Novozymes’ production in Kalundborg runs on green energy from windmills, and all steam will be based on energy from biomass.
- Surface water, rather than precious ground water, is used in a large part of Novozymes’ production.