Wednesday, 09 December 2020 16:40

What is an eco-industrial park?

What is an eco-industrial park? Image: UNIDO website

According to the UNIDO website, “An eco-industrial park can be defined as a community of manufacturing and service businesses located together on a common property. Member businesses seek enhanced environmental, economic, and social performance through collaboration in managing environmental and resource issues. By working together, the community of businesses seeks a collective benefit that is greater than the sum of individual benefits each company would realize by only optimizing its individual performance.”

 

EIPs have been developed around the world, guided by the International EIP Framework. Key for a successful EIP lies in a well-functioning park with appropriate infrastructure and services enabling the tenant companies to concentrate on their key competencies and products.

 

The key components of an eco-industrial park are:

 

  • Park management,
  • Resource efficient and cleaner production,
  • Industrial and infrastructure synergies,
  • Healthy and integrated work force, industry-urban synergies, and
  • Spatial planning and zoning.

 

Reductions in the environmental footprint at tenant company level can be found, assessed and implemented through Resource Efficient Cleaner Production (RECP) processes. In addition to finding internal company improvements the RECP work identifies entry points for industrial and infrastructure synergies. Some energy or material side-streams and by-products identified and quantified in the process can be utilized by neighbouring companies creating industrial synergies. Alternatively, infrastructure synergies can be created through sharing input or effluent treatment infrastructure. This approach also provides opportunities for new business enterprises (especially SMME’s) and value chains that can benefit both industry and the local community.

 

An EIP has structures in place to ensure the safety and comfort of the workforce in the park. This extends to physical service infrastructure and well as ensuring that appropriate freedoms and grievance resolution mechanisms are in place for the employees. An EIP further keeps good relationships with the surrounding community by dialogue and sharing information, and seeks to develop joint infrastructure utilization and services for mutual benefit.

 

Developing a safe, resilient and business positive atmosphere is key to EIPs. This can be promoted by spatial planning and zoning through EIP concept planning and its translation to park master plans. This work is extended to assessing key risks, including climate change risks and resource availability, enabling a long-term success of the industrial park as key part of the community.

 

 

The EIP approach is flexible and can be applied to parks of all sizes, both private and publically owned.