Inderscience Publishers

Industrial symbiosis in the former Soviet Union

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In this contribution we discuss the context, theory and significance of industrial symbiosis in the former Soviet Union, drawing information from original documents in Russian as well as international scientific literature. We describe the Soviet concepts of 'combined production', present from the earliest years of the Soviet Union, and 'waste-free technology', introduced in the final decades before collapse. We show that Soviet scientists were familiar with such elements of modern industrial ecology as the analogy between natural and industrial ecosystems, and the need for a diverse range of actors within an industrial ecosystem. Although the potential environmental benefits of industrial symbiosis were eventually recognised, Soviet planners pursued industrial symbiosis primarily as a means to increase production. We provide examples of Soviet implementation of industrial symbiosis in various industrial sectors. We then discuss strengths, weaknesses, possibilities and limitations of Soviet industrial symbiosis, and draw possible lessons for modern industrial ecology.

Keywords: industrial symbiosis, Soviet Union, central planning, environmental impact, recycling, combined production, waste-free technology, industrial ecology, history

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