One company's trash can be another's treasure — for instance, a server farm produces excess heat, making heat a waste product, but a greenhouse runs on heat and considers it a necessity. The U.K.'s National Industrial Symbiosis Program (NISP) helps match up companies that produce waste with companies that need it. Essentially, it's a Human Centipede for industry.
NISP is the world's most successful "industrial symbiosis" facilitator, and it's linked up more than 1,000 industrial centipedes in the last five years. That's kept 43 million tons of junk out of landfills, and saved 39 million tons of CO2. All this just from helping companies talk to each other about what they need.
The NISP — which is funded by the British government — sees itself as a facilitator, organizing workshops where managers from normally distant industries can collaborate. Over typical two-hour sessions, [NISP founder Peter] Laybourn says 20 managers can sometimes generate 200 potential ideas, if they put their mind to it.
“It’s all based on the concept of bringing companies together from different sectors and trying to find out what opportunities there are between them, usually around resources: by-products, waste, energy, also water, expertise, and logistics,” he says.
So far, up to 14,000 organizations have signed up, including many from outside the U.K.
It would be a pretty heartwarming story if I hadn't just made that gross Human Centipede joke! It was that or embedding this clip.