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Industrial Symbiosis: Old Wine in Recycled Bottles? Some Perspective from the History of Economic and Geographical Thought


  • Pierre Desrochers

    (Department of Geography, University of Toronto, Mississauga, Ontario, Canada,

  • Samuli Leppälä

    (Department of Economics, Turku School of Economics, Turku, Finland)


‘‘Industrial symbiosis’’ (IS) is a central concept in the industrial ecology literature, which describes geographically proximate interfirm relationships involving the exchange of residual materials, water, and energy. Despite its obvious relevance to regional science, economic geography, and urban economics, the issue is only beginning to be addressed in these subdisciplines. This situation is paradoxical as both recovery linkages and the very concept of IS were discussed in some depth by numerous economists and geographers several decades ago. The goals of this article are to document this intellectual history, in the process gaining a better understanding of the phenomenon while shedding additional light on current controversies. In doing so, the authors further hope to restimulate economists, geographers, and regional scientists’ interest in the topic and to illustrate the long-standing importance of geographical co-location in facilitating the ‘‘internalization of externalities’’ of industrial operations.

Suggested Citation

  • Pierre Desrochers & Samuli Leppälä, 2010. "Industrial Symbiosis: Old Wine in Recycled Bottles? Some Perspective from the History of Economic and Geographical Thought," International Regional Science Review, , vol. 33(3), pages 338-361, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:inrsre:v:33:y:2010:i:3:p:338-361

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Pierre Desrochers & Samuli Leppälä, 2011. "Creative Environments: The Case for Local Economic Diversity," Chapters,in: Handbook of Creative Cities, chapter 21 Edward Elgar Publishing.


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