Industrial symbiosis at work


The Industrial symbiosis is the key enabling factor to effect the transition towards circular economy.

The principle behind “industrial symbiosis” is quite simple; instead of being landfilled or eliminated via incineration, waste generated by an industrial process are redirected for reuse as a ‘new’ input into another process by one or more other companies, providing a mutual benefit or “symbiosis”. It has been applied worldwide with recognised environmental, economic, and social benefits.

Today, Geocycle builds industrial symbiosis with many waste generators like the chemical or petroleum industries to recycle and reuse their waste in the cement process.

Discover the Serbia example of how Geocycle works with the oil industry to  eliminate its waste  and recycle it in the cement manufacturing process, thus saving precious natural resources.


Case study

Geocycle’s symbiotic solution for recycling and recovering oil waste

From contaminated lagoons…

Oil sludge is inevitable waste generated during the drilling process that’s often left to stockpile until it forms large lagoons that can be up to 2 meters deep. This toxic waste may infiltrate into the groundwater and soil, causing widespread environmental contamination as well as human health hazards for local communities.

… to rehabilitated farmland and recycled materials!

In response, our Geocycle teams have developed an innovative solution for depolluting these lagoons around the world so they can be rehabilitated and used for growing crops. First, the waste is extracted from the lagoons, transported and transformed into a homogeneous mix. This composition is then co-processed in a Holcim cement plant, where its material component is recycled and its energy recovered in our kilns.

Our co-processing approach, when coupled with expert pre-treatment, provides a practical, cost effective and environmentally preferred option to landfills and waste-to-energy incineration. Here are a few reasons why:

  • It ensures an optimal use of the waste thanks to this simultaneous recycling and recovery process and leaves no residual waste
  • It fully destroys the contaminants
  • It contributes to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions and to the transition towards a less fossil dependent industry
  • It’s supervised by a reliable and transparent actor in waste management: Geocycle

Win-win: creating an industrial symbiosis

Thomas Guillot, Head of Geocycle Europe explains: "Across Europe, our teams can be present at every stage of the value chain to create a virtuous loop out of trash called industrial symbiosis. This symbiosis is a win-win relationship: the oil industry eliminates its waste thanks to our expert services and Holcim benefits from the recycled materials and recovered energy generated by this technique."

Co-processing is a sustainable development concept based on the principles of industrial ecology focusing on the potential role of industry in reducing environmental burdens throughout the product life cycle.

(Mutz et al., 2007; Karstensen, 2009a)

One of the most important goals of industrial ecology is to make one industry’s waste another’s raw material.

(OECD, 2000)