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MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development

global challenges, engineering solutions

The Dynamics of Industrial Symbiosis: An Empirical Study of Industrial Symbiosis in the Malaysian Palm Oil Industry

As the unintended consequences of increasing emission levels, waste products and resource extractions loom, there is an urgent need for sustainable industrial systems. Industrial symbiosis is a promising concept for achieving sustainable industrial systems. However, encouraging businesses to engage in industrial symbiosis remains a challenge. Effectively advocating for businesses to adopt industrial symbiosis requires understanding the dynamics of industrial symbiosis from their perspective.

This study explores the dynamics of industrial symbiosis as a process and focuses on applying the process in a business context. Applying a process-oriented research approach to an industrial symbiosis case study in the Malaysian palm oil industry enables the processes involved in industrial symbiosis formation and development be analysed for patterns. Evidence suggests that industrial symbiosis consists of three distinct processes: selection, implementation and exploitation. Each process demands different focuses, policies and strategies to improve success.

Defining industrial symbiosis as a process could serve as an “operational model” for understanding industrial symbiosis dynamics from a business perspective and for designing more targeted efforts and policies. Moreover, potential weak links that could undermine the success of industrial symbiosis initiatives are also highlighted. This study is a step towards recognising the needs, concerns and perspectives of businesses as a crucial element in industrial symbiosis research and practice.


Course Overview


The need to engage in better problem definition through careful dialogue with all stakeholder groups and a proper recognition of context.


An ability to work with specialists from other disciplines and professional groups acknowledging that technical innovation and business skills also must be understood, nurtured and combined as precursors to the successful implementation of sustainable solutions.


An understanding of mechanisms for managing change in organisations so future engineers are equipped to play a leadership role.


An awareness of a range of assessment frameworks, sustainability metrics and methodologies such as Life Cycle Analysis, Systems Dynamics, Multi-Criteria Decision making and Impact Assessment.