Senate passes Brown bill to create innovative industry-siting program

Today the Senate voted to approve a measure sponsored by Sen. Sharon Brown to establish a statewide industrial-siting coordination program, based on a concept known as industrial symbiosis.

“Despite the complicated name, the idea behind it is quite simple,” said Brown, R-Kennewick. “Instead of wasting the excess resources generated by a particular facility, the byproduct is captured and redirected for use by another strategically located facility. It’s a smart way to bring industry and environmentalists together.

“I’m glad my colleagues see the value in this idea. Industry and environmental 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.”

Senate Bill 6430 would 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 would establish a competitive grant program for research into waste exchange ideas.

Rhys Roth, executive director of the Olympia-based Center for Sustainable Infrastructure, called the bill a major game-changer.

“Industrial symbiosis creates both tremendous economic benefits and great environmental performance,” said Roth. “In the pioneer city of Kalundborg, Denmark – which is not a huge city – they are generating 28 million dollars 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.”

Brown said the idea is already catching on in the Tri-Cities, and that there is a wide array of potential applications for communities across the state.

“It takes some forethought, cooperation and quite a bit of planning, but being strategic and deliberate about how we utilize our resources is a win-win for all sides,” Brown said.

The bill now moves to the House of Representatives for its consideration.