Natural Resources, School of


Date of this Version

Summer 8-13-2016


Behne, B. (2016). Industrial ecology analysis of the potential for an Eastern Nebraska Industrial Symbiosis Network (ENISN): A comparative study, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Science, Major: Natural Resource Sciences, Under the Supervision of Professor Mark E. Burbach. Lincoln, Nebraska: August 2016

Copyright © 2016 Bradley A. Behne


The area of Eastern Nebraska north of Omaha, including the municipality of Blair is host to a collection of unique companies and industries. These industries, driven by the agricultural and urban economy of the area, as well as the geographic proximity to each other, make it an advantageous area to study the potential for a network where individual entities utilize the concept of industrial symbiosis. This potential network is referred to as the Eastern Nebraska Industrial Symbiosis Network (ENISN). Industrial symbiosis, a sub-set of industrial ecology, engages separate industries in a collaborative and collective approach, concerning itself with the flow of materials and energy, water, and/or by-products between each other. The outcome of industrial symbiosis is advantageous to not only the companies, but to the environment as well. The incorporation of ecological economic principles are at the core of industrial symbiosis. A "circular-economy" invites a more sustainable approach where efficient allocation of resources and a philosophy of an end to growth, drive this unique economy that differs from the traditional neoclassical style.

This study compares the potential of an ENISN with the existing Kalundborg Symbiosis in Kalundborg, Denmark, a long established example of industrial ecology and the use of an eco-industrial network where the by-product of one enterprise is used as a resource by another enterprise, in a closed cycle. Industrial symbiosis is a collaboration where public and private enterprises buy and sell residual products, resulting in mutual economic and environmental benefits.

The results of this study indicate the ENISN study site has the potential for an industrial symbiosis site. The analysis of material flows and inductive themes derived from interviews with potential partners revealed the presence of collaboration and environmental stewardship. The results of the study suggest that the human capital exists to make an ENISN; however, the impetus to take on the challenging ontological barriers remains to be seen.

Advisor: Mark E. Burbach