The Guitang Group (GG), which operates one of China's largest sugar refineries, has been developing and implementing an internal and external industrial symbiosis strategy for more than four decades. The GG first invested in developing its own collection of downstream companies to utilize nearly all byproducts of sugar production. This strategy has generated new revenues and reduced environmental emissions and disposal costs, while simultaneously improving the quality of sugar.
Internally, the GG's complex consists of interlinked production of sugar, alcohol, cement, compound fertilizer, and paper and includes recycling and reuse. Externally, the GG has established a strong customer base as a result of its product quality, has worked to maintain and expand its supply base through technological and economic incentives to farmers (and even to competitors), and has had to react to a strong government presence that fundamentally affects its operations.
Operations to date support some of the fundamental concepts of industrial symbiosis. Significant challenges exist, though, if the company is to continue to prosper in the volatile globalized sugar market.