Our history

The original idea for NISP (National Industrial Symbiosis Programme) dates back to 1999 when Peter Laybourn, Chief Executive of International Synergies, learned about by-product synergy activity in the Gulf of Mexico. Although an excellent idea, the model wasn’t quite right for the UK.

After ‘germinating’ the idea for a few years, in 2003 Peter piloted his adapted, facilitated industrial symbiosis model in three UK regions, with support from regional development agencies and the hypothecated landfill tax fund. These NISP pilots had immediate impact in terms of reducing landfill, carbon emissions and industry’s reliance on virgin resources and were brought to the attention of Defra who, in 2005, invested to roll NISP out nationally as part of the Business Resource Efficiency and Waste Programme.

From its inception, NISP was created as a business opportunity programme and the strap-line developed back in 2003 remains as relevant today: “Connecting Industry, Creating Opportunity”.

Through NISP International Synergies created a free to business network that was open to all companies from all industry sectors.  The industrial symbiosis network provided a mechanism to share knowledge and ideas on how companies were addressing resource efficiency. Using this cross-sector and disruptive supply chain approach, NISP was able to identify opportunities to reuse underused or undervalued resources, converting previously wasted materials, energy or water into tradeable, commercial commodities bringing bottom line benefit as well as generating environmental benefits.

In 2009 International Synergies published, NISP – The Pathway to a Low Carbon, Sustainable Economy which documented the programme’s progress to date and proved instrumental securing additional investment in the UK.

Within seven years NISP’s network comprised of 15,000 companies. Opportunities identified and facilitated through NISP collectively generated £1 billion in sales and cost reductions of £1.1 billion for participating companies. It reduced carbon emissions by 39 million tonnes, diverted 45 million tonnes of material from landfill, and saved/created over 10,000 jobs.*

Part of NISP’s innovation is its systems approach, addressing material ‘waste’, energy, water, logistics, capacity, expertise – indeed any assets that are under-utilised. NISP creates opportunities for deploying additional tools including eco-design and cleaner production.

Having proven the approach, in 2007 the company began exporting its facilitated industrial symbiosis model providing capacity building expertise, in-country support and training, and other tools (including a proprietary resource data management and analysis platform called SYNERGie® developed with input from experienced industrial symbiosis practitioners).  To date the company has supported the implementation of projects in Brazil, China and Mexico, across Europe and most recently in South Africa and Canada.