The Birmingham company behind a successful national programme to help businesses trade unwanted resources is taking its expertise to Brazil to set up a similar network.

Thanks to the impact of its National Industrial Symbiosis Programme (NISP) in the UK, International Synergies (ISL) has won a contract to set up an “industrial symbiosis” (IS) network in the Alto do Sao Francisco region of Brazil.

IS brings together companies from all sectors to better manage resources by trading materials, energy and water and sharing assets, logistics and expertise.

It is a relatively new concept which focuses on a “closed-loop” approach to industry where waste and resource streams are recovered, reprocessed and reused in other businesses.

The contract is part of the UK Government’s Sustainable Development Dialogue partnership agreement and is being funded by Defra through its International Sustainable Development Fund and by the Minas Gerais State Government in Brazil.

ISL chairman Peter Laybourn said: “The state environmental agency sees IS as a powerful tool to support public policies on waste management in Minas Gerais.

“Over the course of the next two years we will work with the Government and the environmental agency to map and compile data on the flow of resources such as materials and energy to simultaneously reduce waste and reuse valuable resources which in turn will strengthen Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP) in Minas Gerais and ultimately in Brazil as a whole.”

The project is in an area of Brazil which includes 56 municipalities and is responsible for five per cent of Minas Gerais’s income. Key industries in the region include steel, chemical, food, fireworks, timber, textiles, construction, milk and manufacturing.

Phil Callaghan, from Defra, said: “ISL has a proven track record in establishing successful IS networks including Dialogue projects in China and Mexico.

“Developing an IS network in Brazil that ties into the country’s SCP policies and strategies will promote economic growth and reduce consumption of virgin materials while improving the country’s overall environmental performance,” he said.

ISL has a lot of experience establishing industrial symbiosis networks both in the UK and overseas.

In the UK, NISP has more than10,000 members and is divided into 12 regions across the UK.

Each has a team of dedicated IS practitioners working closely with businesses to raise the profile of IS and to recruit members to the programme.

In the last three years it has generated £140 million for its members and reduced their combined industrial waste by 4.1 million tonnes and carbon emissions by 4.6 million tonnes.

NISP, the world’s only national industrial symbiosis initiative, originated in the West Midlands as a pilot scheme and continues to be supported from regional development agency Advantage West Midlands.

ISL is also currently leading two other Government-funded Dialogue projects – a circular economy pilot in the Yunnan Province of China and an industrial symbiosis programme in Mexico working alongside the Confederation of Industrial Chambers.

During the Chinese pilot the ISL-led team worked with Yunnan’s Environmental Protection Bureau, training teams to use tools and techniques which introduce local companies to the principles of industrial symbiosis.