A spatial agent based model for simulating and optimizing networked eco-industrial systems

Juste Raimbault, Joris Broere*, Marius Somveille, Jesus Mario Serna, Evelyn Strombom, Christine Moore, Ben Zhu, Lorraine Sugar

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)
86 Downloads (Pure)


Industrial symbiosis involves creating integrated cycles of by-products and waste between networks of industrial actors in order to maximize economic value, while at the same time minimizing environmental strain. In such a network, the global environmental strain is no longer equal to the sum of the environmental strain of the individual actors, but it is dependent on how well the network performs as a whole. The development of methods to understand, manage or optimize such networks remains an open issue. In this paper we put forward a simulation model of by-product flow between industrial actors. The goal is to introduce a method for modelling symbiotic exchanges from a macro perspective. The model takes into account the effect of two main mechanisms on a multi-objective optimization of symbiotic processes. First it allows us to study the effect of geographical properties of the economic system, said differently, where actors are divided in space. Second, it allows us to study the effect of clustering complementary actors together as a function of distance, by means of a spatial correlation between the actors’ by-products. Our simulations unveil patterns that are relevant for macro-level policy. First, our results show that the geographical properties are an important factor for the macro performance of symbiotic processes. Second, spatial correlations, which can be interpreted as planned clusters such as Eco-industrial parks, can lead to a very effective macro performance, but only if these are strictly implemented. Finally, we provide a proof of concept by comparing the model to real world data from the European Pollutant Release and Transfer Register database using georeferencing of the companies in the dataset. This work opens up research opportunities in interactive data-driven models and platforms to support real-world implementation of industrial symbiosis.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104538
JournalResources, Conservation and Recycling
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Agent-based modeling
  • Circular economy
  • Geosimulation
  • Industrial symbiosis
  • Sensitivity analysis


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