Sotenäs kommunvapen, länk till startsida


Symbiosis development in English

Sotenäs Center of Symbiosis

Fyll i en bildbeskrivningstext

Industrial and social symbiosis in Sotenäs municipality

Description and ambition

“Sotenäs Center of Symbiosis shall be a leading actor in maritime development. We are an innovative hub in an environment where the human meeting is the basis for the transition to a circular economy. With the sea as the basis, we strengthen the existing business and create opportunities for new green business.” – Länk till annan webbplats.

Sotenäs municipality has together with local companies, academia and other entities developed a symbiosis network with the ambition to create innovative and sustainable business environment with industrial and social symbiosis as main methodology. Industrial symbiosis is based on a model of corporativism that seeks to optimize resource flows to obtain a collective benefit greater than the sum of benefits that could be achieved individually. Waste or by-products of one is used as a resource for someone else. In social symbiosis, human resources are being used more efficient in collaboration, than if everyone operate for themselves.

In order to support industrial and social symbiosis between actors, Sotenäs Center of Symbiosis facilitate and coordinate the symbiosis development. In a symbiosis network, the companies or other entities exchange competence, products, energy, services and other benefits in order to create added value and improve industrial productivity. Benefits created in the symbiosis network retained jobs and companies, reduced eutrophication and CO2-emissions as well as increased revenue and lower costs for transportation and waste handling.

The benefits in the case of Sotenäs are mainly connected to fish processing companies, land-based fish and algae farms, fishing gear production and the marine recycling center. One important part of the symbiosis development is to secure the right competence for each actor and function. The jobs created are for different grades of education and skills, so every person can become a part of the development, from beach cleaning, factory and restaurant workers to engineers, artists and researchers. The Center of Symbiosis is working close to the municipal adult education and the work training unit.

Resources mobilized

Sotenäs Center of Symbiosis belongs to the Department of Business and Development in the municipality. Here, they facilitate and support primary sustainable development through several externally funded innovation- and development projects together with businesses and experts in different areas – e.g., circular economy, test beds ocean litter and expired fishing gear, green business development and aquaculture.

Expected impact

These symbiosis collaborations contribute to meeting societal and industrial needs more sustainably, often by creating improved value from otherwise wasted or underutilized resources. They also have significant potential to contribute to business competitiveness, reduced resource demand and environmental impact, and to sustainable societal developments. These partnerships can contribute to increased business value, improved environmental performance, regional development and stimulate innovation. It’s a way to circular economy and sustainable lifecycles. In addition to more efficient resource management, symbiosis activities contribute to a better relationship and collaboration between different companies and other entities in the municipality. It has made it possible to exchange knowledge, reach a stronger economy in the municipality and region, promote sustainable behavior, create employment and contribute to innovation and research.

For the companies within the network, this means reducing the cost of resources and waste management, increased revenues when value is created from by-products and waste and reducing the burden on one's own system. It also opens new innovative products and services and enables development work that some companies themselves have not been able to carry out. Symbiosis networks create social values between companies and open for new business opportunities.

As the core of the symbiosis network is working with the sea in one way or another, they reach environmental benefits on both local and international level. Research reports has shown that they reduce both eutrophication to the sea and reduce the problem with plastics in the oceans.

Related SDGs and targets

Mainly 9, 12, 14


Sotenäs municipality has together with local businesses and entrepreneurs established a symbiosis network which is continuously growing. It is an on-going process with lots of opportunities for further developing movements and projects. The symbiosis network and the municipality’s ambitions to promote sustainability motions, also came to be main reasons for several additional companies to operate in the municipality of Sotenäs and take part in the symbiosis network.

In 2017, the Swedish Environmental Institute – IVL conducted an environmental and socio-economy analysis of the ongoing development. The result was that in 2022 Sotenäs could achieve:

  • A reduction of nearly 60 000 ton CO2-eq emissions per year
  • Eutrophication impact reductions of 388 ton PO4-eq per year
  • Reduction of over 19 million ton-km per year in transportation of wastes and other products
  • Economic contribution of the network would be about 10% of the Sotenäs GDP
  • 20 new companies
  • 100 new or retained jobs
  • Double the number of visitors to the symbiosis network
  • 164 MSEK in savings on waste disposal transport compared to reference model levels

As the development is progressing, Sotenäs could make clear that these numbers are too low.


Key factors of success:

  • Anchoring with local politicians and companies
  • That the municipality together with local key actors visited the Kalundborg industrial symbiosis network
  • Local entrepreneurship and culture of collaboration
  • Skills of applying for external funding, to create projects and the network of relevant actors
  • Sotenäs municipality has had the courage to speak about the symbiosis development in an early stage of the development which has attracted new actors to the network
  • Skills of connecting “the right” actors to each other
  • Collaboration with academia and consultants
  • Local companies agreed on a common challenge regarding water treatment limitations

Why industrial and social symbiosis and the importance of facilitation

Most of the environmental challenges the communities have faced depend on the increasing population and human activity, especially of the industrial development and the growth of industrial parks. There is a need to develop industrial parks in a way that contributes to minimal environmental impact, economic prosperity as well as local and regional sustainability.

One challenge is to use their large amounts of underutilized resources. This can be achieved by creating circular models and coordinating resource exchanges in an industrial and social symbiosis. Industrial symbiosis means that actors collaborate through sharing of resources for collective benefits. Industrial symbiosis involves cross-sectoral, multi-actor collaborations enabling increased value creation from secondary resources. It is an effective enabler of more circular and bio-based economies.

In a social symbiosis the human resources and competences are strengthened, in parallel as the industrial symbiosis is assured.
Previous studies highlight that there is a need for a better understanding of how symbiosis networks can develop and what role different actors should take. An interesting case to study in this context is the municipality of Sotenäs, where symbiosis development started 2011 and a Center of Symbiosis under municipal management was established in 2015. In Sweden, where the lower-hanging-fruits are mostly collected, scaling up industrial symbiosis practice, and associated benefits, requires systemic facilitation, as have been taken in to place in Sotenäs.

Here, the municipality have a particularly important role in coordinating and conducting symbiosis development activities. Municipalities are actors that remains in the long term, possesses many different functions, and invests in the social benefits. Approaches aiming to increase the actor’s internal capacity and engagement in collective actions are needed to develop symbiosis networks. Here, communication has proven to be crucial. All actors should communicate the benefits of symbiotic collaborations both internally and externally to contribute to the anchoring process as well as understanding and increasing knowledge of the subject.


Senast ändrad:


Dela detta innehåll