Exploiting Industrial Symbiosis in Birmingham

Partners: International Synergies and Birmingham City Council


Birmingham was one of the first cities to adopt a pro-active industrial symbiosis approach to develop a medium and long-term strategy for sustainable economic development for the Tyseley Environmental Enterprise Zone (TEEZ).

Birmingham City Council commissioned International Synergies to undertake an analysis of infrastructure and resource flows in TEEZ applying industrial symbiosis methodology to devise a short, medium and long-term plan for economic regeneration.


International Synergies highlighted many opportunities to support immediate and long-term business growth, diversification objectives and environmental targets.

The potential economic, social and environmental impact of implementing the industrial symbiosis opportunities identified for today, tomorrow, and the future resulted in:

  • 400-500 direct jobs (and further jobs related to investment)
  • 55,000 tonnes per annum of carbon reduction
  • Cost savings for existing companies in excess of £1.9M per annum
  • Additional revenue for Birmingham-based businesses of £8-10M per annum
  • Total GVA impact of circa £12-15M* per annum

One area identified for its potential to yield both immediate and long-term benefit was that of metals recovery. Birmingham is widely acknowledged for its industrial heritage, and the metals industry is key to this; the study identified opportunities for the recovery of precious metals, rare earth elements and other critical materials from local resource flows in TEEZ, that would not only yield immediate benefits but would help reduce future UK dependence on imports.

Examples of this included the potential to recover platinum and palladium from municipal road sweepings collected in the area using extraction and processing equipment already available. The study also identified opportunities for the recovery of silver from dental amalgam and X-rays. The Tyseley study focused on the area up to 5 miles from the centre but extending the area found further opportunities for metal recovery and reuse.

An executive summary for the Tyseley project is available here. In 2016, the RED IBIS approach was also applied to the Burnt Mills estate by Basildon Borough Council to deliver its vision of sustainable regeneration through eco-industrial park principles.  Please contact us for further information at