April 2, 2007

Industrial Symbiosis: Creating eco-industrial parks

For commercial-scale deployments of emerging technologies to succeed financially they will have to integrate into the industrial landscape in a way that supports the health of the enterprise. The ideal sites would co-locate companies that supply biostock, cleanly process it, and use the output of the processing to create new chemicals, bioproducts, biofuels and bioenergy. Ideally, the energy needed for operation of the eco-industrial park would come from the park itself (all this without leaving a carbon footprint).

Case studies citing examples are beginning to be published. MIT and Yale have teamed together to share the publishing responsibility to make these case studies available in The Journal of Industrial Ecology.

The Journal of Industrial Ecology is pleased to announce a special feature on industrial symbiosis in its recently released issue. The feature contains 4 cutting edge articles on industrial symbiosis - environmentally beneficial exchanges of materials, energy, water, and by-products among diversified, geographically-clustered firms.

Industrial symbiosis, and the related notions of eco-industrial development, industrial ecosystems and eco-industrial parks, are one of the signature concepts in the field of industrial ecology. This special feature is designed to highlight the latest work in this growing area. The Journal of Industrial Ecology is an international peer-reviewed quarterly owned by Yale University and published by MIT Press.

Special Feature on Industrial Symbiosis from the MIT Press Journal of Industrial Ecology

"Uncovering" Industrial Symbiosis
Marian R. Chertow
Journal of Industrial Ecology Winter 2007, Vol. 11, No. 1: 11-30.
This article provides a historical view of the motivations and means for pursuing industrial symbiosis—defined to include physical exchanges of materials, energy, water, and by-products among diversified clusters of firms. It finds that “uncovering” existing symbioses has led to more sustainable industrial development than attempts to design and build eco-industrial parks incorporating physical exchanges.

Industrial Symbiosis in China: A Case Study of the Guitang Group
Qinghua Zhu, Ernest A. Lowe, Yuan-an Wei, Donald Barnes
Journal of Industrial Ecology Winter 2007, Vol. 11, No. 1: 31-42.

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.

A Spatial Analysis of Loop Closing Among Recycling, Remanufacturing, and Waste Treatment Firms in Texas
Donald I. Lyons
Journal of Industrial Ecology Winter 2007, Vol. 11, No. 1: 43-54.

A central element of industrial ecology is the concept of closing the loop in material use (cycling) by directing used material and products (wastes) back to production processes. This article examines the issue of geographic scale and loop closing for heterogeneous wastes through an analysis of the location and materials flows of a set of recycling, remanufacturing, recycling manufacturing, and waste treatment (RRWT) firms in Texas. The results suggest that there is no preferable scale at which loop closing should be organized. RRWT firms are ubiquitous and operate successfully throughout the settlement hierarchy. The cycling boundaries of RRWT firms are dependent primarily upon how and where their products are redirected to production processes rather than the firm’s location in the settlement hierarchy. In other words, loop closing is dominated by the spatial economic logic of the transactions of the firm involved.

Industrial Symbiosis in the Australian Minerals Industry: The Cases of Kwinana and Gladstone
Dick van Beers, Glen Corder, Albena Bossilkov, Rene van Berkel
Journal of Industrial Ecology Winter 2007, Vol. 11, No. 1: 55-72.

This article provides an overview of past and current synergy developments in two of Australia’s major heavy industrial regions, Kwinana (Western Australia) and Gladstone (Queensland), and includes a comparative review and assessment of the drivers, barriers, and trigger events for regional synergies initiatives in both areas.

To enhance the further development of new regional synergies, the Centre for Sustainable Resource Processing (CSRP), a joint initiative of Australian minerals processing companies, research providers, and government agencies, has undertaken several collaborative projects. These include research to facilitate the process of identifying and evaluating potential synergy opportunities and assistance for the industries with feasibility studies and implementation of selected synergy projects in both regions. The article also reports on the progress to date from this CSRP research.

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1 comment:

Gareth Kane said...


Good article.

I'm interested in the use of the term 'creating eco-industrial parks' in the title. As far as I have been able to ascertain, all the good examples of industrial symbiosis have evolved over time through economic necessity eg Kalundborg, Styria etc.

On the other hand there have been many attempts to build eco-industrial parks from scratch. According to research from the University of Hull, UK and my old team from the University of Teesside, most, if not all, of these have failed - except those in countries with a centralised planning system.

I'm currently looking at best practice in speeding up the evolution of industrial parks into eco-industrial parks. The best example I have found is Devens in the US and I'm currently setting up a project to try their approach in the UK.



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