permaculture principles applied to industry

Hi Everyone,

Paul Hawken’s book The Ecology of Commerce has a description of an industrial park in Denmark where every company’s waste products become inputs for another company, resulting in a zero-waste closed-loop system. Although Hawken never uses the word “permaculture,” the following is an excellent example of how permaculture design principles can (and should) be applied to industry and commerce:

“[A] coal-fired power plant, an oil refinery, a pharmaceutical company specializing in biotechnology, a sheetrock plant, concrete producers, a producer of sulfuric acid, the municipal heating authority, a fish farm, some greenhouses, local farms, and other enterprises work cooperatively together. The Asnaes Power Plant” sends its waste steam to “the Statoil refinery and the Novo Nordisk pharmaceutical company. It also provides surplus heat to greenhouses, a fish farm owned by the utility, and the residents of the local town, allowing 3,500 oil-burning heating systems to be shut off.

“The Statoil refinery produces surplus gas, which was not used prior to 1991 because it contained excessive amounts of sulfur. The refinery installed a process to remove the sulfur, so that a cleaner-burning gas is sold to Gyproc, the sheetrock factory, as well as to the coal-fired utility (saving 30,000 tons of coal); the sulfur that is being retrieved is sold to Kemira, a chemical company. The process that removes the sulfur in the smokestacks of the Asnaes power plant also yields calcium sulfate, which they will be selling to Gyproc as a substitute for mined gypsum. The fly ash from coal generation is used in road construction and concrete production. Waste heat from the refinery is used to warm the waters of a fish farm that produces 200 tons of turbot and trout sold into the French market, while its fish sludge goes to local farmers as fertilizers. Meanwhile, Novo Nordisk has developed a process to make the sludge generated in its fermentation
process useful for local farmers through the addition of chalk-lime and processing at 90 C for an hour to kill any remaining microorganisms.

“This synergy is remarkable because it happened ‘spontaneously’, without governmental regulation or law as the prime motivating factor, and because some of the relationships between outputs and inputs were serendipitous or unplanned at the outset.”

— So, do you see why I’m always going around telling people that permaculture isn’t just about chickens and gardens? The world needs people from every business, every industry, every walk of life to study permaculture design principles, internalize them, and apply them to the deliberate evolution of every facet of the human environment. So come on, get into permaculture and find YOUR right livelihood, so you can contribute your unique piece of the puzzle!

cheers, and Permaculture Phorever!


Jenny Nazak
Austin Permaculture Guild
512-619-5363 /

Jenny Nazak
Licensed Avatar Master

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