Brown’s innovative industry-siting program wins unanimous House support, goes to governor

Denmark’s Kalundborg Eco-Industrial Park is perhaps the world’s best example of an industrial symbiosis network – a cooperative environment in which companies use each other’s by-products and otherwise share resources in order to both save money and improve the environment.

Today the state House approved Senate Bill 6430, which is aimed at helping Washington establish a statewide industrial-siting coordination program, based on the Kalundborg model.

Sen. Sharon Brown, sponsor of the bill, explained that companies involved in the effort at Kalundborg exchange waste byproducts, energy, water, and even information. While the Kalundborg park developed organically, it now serves as a model for what public-private developers and industrial site planners can aim to achieve.

“There really is near-universal praise for this innovative approach,” said Brown, R-Kennewick. “It’s a smart way to bring industry and environmentalists together. Their concerns don’t have to be in conflict; as we have seen in Denmark, where this idea originated, we can bring both sides together if we do the work.”

Brown’s bill – which passed the House 96-0 and the Senate 48-0 on Feb. 17 – will create a program, administered by the state Department of Commerce, to bring together expertise, technical assistance and best practices to support local industrial symbiosis projects. The projects use the waste byproduct of one industrial facility to produce energy and other resources for an adjacent facility. The bill also will establish a competitive grant program for research into waste exchange ideas.

Brown thanked those who testified in support of her bill in the House and the Senate, highlighting the efforts of Rhys Roth, executive director of the Olympia-based Center for Sustainable Infrastructure.

“Rhys has been a tremendous asset in helping educate lawmakers and the public about this idea,” Brown explained. “This has really been a community effort to highlight what a win-win this concept is for our state.”

Roth pointed out that Brown’s bill is not just about recycling and improving the environment but is also focused on driving local economies and creating jobs.

“Industrial symbiosis creates both tremendous economic benefits and great environmental performance,” said Roth, who explained that the city of Kalundborg is generating $28 million of economic value in a community of 17,000 people and reducing carbon-dioxide emissions by 600,000 tons a year.

“We have tremendous potential here in Washington to do the same, and this bill is the bill that will put Washington at the forefront of industrial symbiosis in North America.”

The bill now moves to the governor for his consideration.