By-Product Synergy (BPS) is the matching of under-valued waste or by-product streams from one facility with potential users at another facility to create new revenues or savings with potential social and environmental benefits. The resulting collaborative network creates new revenues, cost savings, energy conservation, reductions in the need for virgin-source materials, and reductions in waste and pollution, including climate-changing emissions. These are quantifiable benefits to the environment, economy and communities. (bps-hub.org)
Industry is a key contributor to pollution and landfill waste. In fact 90% of materials consumed by industry end up as waste products (ohiobps.org). However, companies and cities nationwide are finding ways to take what is a waste product for one manufacturer and turn it into a usable product for another. The term is By-Product Synergy and it is a win-win situation for business, people, and the environment.
BPS simultaneously lowers material costs for one industry and waste disposal costs for another. We are not talking pocket change here either. Savings fall within the six figure range and into the millions depending on the industry. In turn, energy and virgin material usage is reduced, benefiting the environment. Finally, the local economy gets a boost and jobs stay within the community.
The BPS process facilitates communication among differing industries and government to identify supply chain localization and waste minimization opportunities. Numerous private and governmental organizations exist to assist business stakeholders form partnerships, spur innovation, and improve production efficiency. These organizations create opportunities to address regulation issues and reduce barriers for exchanging materials.
Some cities have lead the charge by offering BPS services as a way to meet greenhouse gas emission and community waste reduction goals, all while reducing costs associated with disposal. Chicago is one such city to start a BPS collaborative called the Waste to Profit Network which links businesses who could mutually benefit from one another. The program is responsible for economic growth, job creation and retention, lower energy and CO2 emissions, and over 182,000 tons of waste diversion in the Chicagoland area.
Examples of BPS in action
- A cement manufacturer uses the slag from a neighboring steel mill in its production process, resulting in a 10% increase in production output and a 30-40% decrease in nitrogen oxide emissions.
- A major US chemical company identifies synergies between six of its own plants with an estimated annual cost savings of $15 million and total annual energy savings of 900 billion BTU.
- A fiberglass manufacturer connects with a firm that will use its 500 tons/year of off-spec material as well as discovering soy polymers and chicken feathers as more benign and less expensive raw materials.
- A brick manufacturer uses incinerated cow bone ash from meat processing plants, industrial ash, and water treatment residue to create a new product line of recycled “eco-bricks,” diverting 16,000 tons of waste from landfills each year.
Whether you are a large corporation or a small business, I encourage you to hunt for BPS resources in your community. This practice works across all industries . A family-owned pizza shop can send their used cooking oil to a local farm for use as biodiesel in tractors, a tile factory can donate broken and blemished products to art schools to be re-purposed, or a shoe company can pass off leftover rubber to a climbing gym to use as flooring. As the saying goes, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.