National Industrial Symbiosis Programme

Partners International Synergies and UK Government


NISP is International Synergies’ most recognised project and remains the world’s first national industrial symbiosis programme. The model has to date been replicated in 21 countries world-wide.

NISP originated as three pilot schemes in Scotland, West Midlands and Yorkshire & Humberside in 2003. Their success provided a clear evidence base to the Department for Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra), who in 2005 awarded International Synergies £27 million pounds over three years to roll out the programme across all nine English regions.

One of the reasons for the programme’s overwhelming success is the way in which it was managed and delivered. The programme operated with nationally coordinated operational focus underpinned by a local delivery structure. It is the NISP teams’ knowledge and insight into specific local agendas on the economy and environment that enabled the programme to have such a positive impact across the UK.

NISP is a business-led programme with over 15,000 participating industry members who form part of a unique network. Through the network, NISP identifies mutually profitable transactions between companies so that underused or undervalued resources (including energy, waste, water and logistics) are brought into productive use. NISP members comprise of micros, small and medium businesses (SMEs) and multinational/corporates from every industry sector.


NISP has enabled its UK business members to:

  • Divert 47 million tonnes of industrial waste from landfill
  • Generate £1 billion in new sales
  • Reduce carbon emissions by 42 million tonnes
  • Cut costs by £1 billion by reducing disposal, storage, transport & purchasing costs;
  • Reuse 1.8 million tonnes of hazardous waste
  • Create and safeguard over 10,000 jobs
  • Save 60 million tonnes of virgin material
  • Save 73 million tonnes of industrial water

All figures are independently verified and relate to programme results between April 2005 and March 2013 with lifetime benefits.

NISP was the world’s first national industrial symbiosis initiative and has received global acknowledgements:

  • Featured as one of 30 global examples of projects that stimulate the Circular Economy in ‘Governments Go Circular’ Global Scan report compiled by Accenture (2014);
  • An Innovative Network Exemplar Programme Case Study by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD, 2011);
  • Accredited by the European Commission as an Exemplar of Eco-Innovation through its Environmental Technologies Action Plan (ETAP, 2007);
  • Cited as an example of ‘Best Practice’ in the European Union’s Waste Framework Directive (2008) ;
  • Highlighted as 1 of 20 Worldwide Green Game Changing Innovations in a report commissioned by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF, 2010).
  • Winner in the Best Carbon Reduction Project category of the Awards for Environmental Excellence, 2010 (subsequently entered into European Business Awards for the Environment, 2012)
  • Winner of the British Expertise Award for Global Environmental Impact, 2009