Traditional industrial parks have been a feature of the US economic landscape for many years. Some specialize, such as the Heller Industrial Park in Edison Township, NJ, which specializes in track distribution warehouses for the NYC metropolitan area. Others, such as the Marine Industrial Terminal in Coeyman's, NY, specialize in heavy industry firms, including bridge disassembly and assembly and construction and demolition processing, taking advantage of their port on the Hudson River. Many cities and counties create industrial parks as a business-friendly program to facilitate location of new companies and expansion of existing companies.
Most recently, the concept and practice of an industrial park for green enterprises has emerged through the environmental movement.
What is an Eco-Industrial Park (EIP)?
An EIP includes:
a collection of complementary firms or industries that are networked to reduce energy and material use. The main distinction is that an EIP involves a level of coordination or cooperation among industries--an industrial symbiosis in which energy and materials produced by one industry are consumed as inputs by another. The industries and processes are seen as interacting systems rather than isolated components in a system of linear flows. The idea is to create a network of companies that collaborate through resource recovery and waste-sharing systems, producing a symbiotic relationship to improve their environmental and economic performance within a region. EIPs employ the concepts of industrial ecology, in which industrial systems operate in a similar fashion as natural ecological systems. Under this arrangement, companies locate in proximity to one another to take advantage of resource exchange, waste and energy streams, and knowledge exchange. By cooperating with each other in an industrial ecosystem, businesses can improve their combined environmental performance by measures that could increase profit margins and potentially advance economic development. Under the Clinton Administration's Council on Sustainable Development, four pilot projects were implemented. None have been sustained. The Cape Charles, VA Park operated for over 10 years. It failed as an EIP mostly due to its location in a remote, rural area that made it difficult to recruit and retain companies.
While the concept has become quite popular with economic development planners and sustainable development advocates, the practice has proved challenging. Among the barriers to building an EIP are:
- Technical--exchanges among industries can be either infeasible or not understood, or necessary information is not available at the right time,
- Financial--exchanges may be economically unsound or too risky,
- Organizational--exchanges may not fit a company's corporate structure, and
- Legal--concerns over liability may prevent even proven exchange processes.
There are a variety of sub-categories of facilities under the general EIP designation.
Symbiotic Industrial Parks are those in which the by-product of one plant's production process becomes the feedstock for the production in another plant on site. The Catawba Industrial Park in NC, for example, features a wood manufacturing plant, which sends its waste wood materials to a pallet manufacturing plant within the same complex. Another form of symbiotic relationship is the sharing of energy from one single source by the companies in the park. The Catawba Industrial Park features the use of energy from methane recovery from a landfill located within the park. In Europe several industrial parks use a single source of fossil fuel derived energy for enterprises located in the industrial park.
Shared energy source is a feature of the Kalundborg, Denmark industrial park. This facility was unplanned and has developed over a 20-year period. It is administered by the city and includes a power plant, refinery, fish farm, pharmaceuticals plant, and a wallboard manufacturer.
Agro-Eco-Industrial Parks have been developed in both industrialized and countries in Asia with the assistance from agencies, such as the Asian Institute of Technology in Bangkok, and the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies in Osaka. These are referred to as industrial-agricultural clusters based in urban-rural fringe areas.
Resource Recovery Parks are those that reserve space exclusively for companies that process recyclable materials, including organic matter, or manufacture products from recycled materials. The state of California pioneered in this area when it created Recycling Market Development Zones (RMDZs), under the auspices of the California Integrated Solid Waste Management Board. As many as 40 facilities were developed in urban and rural areas. Companies that locate in these zones are eligible for tax abatement benefits. Most RMDZs are one contiguous site. However, in the city of Los Angeles and Ventura County, exceptions were made to allow any recycling company located in industrially zoned areas to be eligible for RMDZ benefits.
Successful Resource Recovery Parks are located in the cities of Oakland, Berkeley, and Del Norte County, CA. In Oakland, St Vincent De Paul operates a small, non-profit, resource recovery park on 15 acres. The social enterprise operates its own waste exchange and leases buildings to other facilities including a building deconstruction company, a textile recovery and processing facility and a mattress recycling facility. Urban Ore, in Berkeley, is a pioneering private enterprise that features contracts with the city to recover reusable materials at the city's transfer station. Recovered materials are brought back to the Urban Ore facility for processing and resale to residents, builders and salvage shops, which dot the San Francisco Bay Area. Del Norte's Resource Recovery Park is also centered around the County's transfer station. Initiated by the Del Norte County Solid Waste management Authority, the project was inspired by the close of the county's landfill which requires an 80 mile, one way, trip to the closest landfill. Materials recovered from the transfer station, and delivered directly to the facility from generators, is processed for reuse and resale by small businesses. In St Luis Obispo County, CA, a small resource recovery park features a pricing system of low tip fees for haulers that bring in recyclables and a higher fee for haulers that do not.
In Eugene/Springfield, OR, another St Vincent de Paul social enterprise has developed a network of enterprises including appliance repair, mattress repair, electronic recycling, book and furniture sales.
In Austin, Texas, a private resource recovery park is located at a landfill owned by Texas Disposal Systems. The park features a composting and sale of topsoil and a buy-back center for recyclables. The owner's goal is to extend the life of the landfill and create additional profit sources for the company. Another private sector resource recovery park is operated by Waste Management, Inc. in San Leandro, CA. This facility is 53 acres based on the Davis Street Transfer Station. The company has been adding reuse, recycling and composting services, since the 1990s, and currently manages curbside recyclables, wood and green waste, construction and demolition aggregate, paper, appliances, and tires. In Hawaii County, HI, two approaches have been implemented. The county developed a small "green" park for companies to locate to compost green waste into topsoil, and process fats, oils and greases (FOGS) into diesel fuel. The county has also made its transfer stations available to repair and reuse programs that divert appliances, furniture, toys and other used commodities from their landfill. The Monterey Regional Waste Management District (MRWMD) operates a regional environmental park in Marina, California. The environmental park includes one of the first resource recovery parks in California (although the MRWMD has not called it that). The district also operates a water pollution control facility that handles most of Monterey County's biosolids (sewage sludge). Geographically, the MRWMD extends from Moss Landing in the north to Big Sur in the south, with the Pacific Coast forming the west boundary and the Salinas Valley forming the east boundary. The service area is 853 square miles, and the service population is 170,000. The park includes a 315-acre permitted sanitary landfill site, a 126-acre buffer area (mostly Salinas River floodplain), and 20 acres for the administration building, scale house, and public drop-off recycling station, Also included are a resale facility (Last Chance Mercantile), maintenance buildings, landfill gas power project, a materials recovery facility (MRF), and a permanent household hazardous waste collection facility. In addition, construction and demolition (C&D) recycling operations, composting facilities, and a soils blending facility are located on the landfill site. MRWMD limits land uses at the site to compatible uses and facilities that use recycled materials as feedstocks. The Monterey park was designed in large part based on the concept of the "serial MRF" developed by Urban Ore, Berkeley, CA.
Greening Industrial Parks are those that cater to any enterprise, but focus on greening these enterprises once they are located in the park. The Burnside Industrial Park in Halifax, Nova Scotia, a project of Dalhousie University Eco-Efficiency Centre, has more than 1,500 businesses which have been improving their environmental performance and developing profitable partnerships. The TaigaNova and Innovista Eco-Industrial Parks in Alberta, Canada are similar facilities. The Innovista facility sells lots for developments to private firms, while others lease facilities. In both, technical assistance for developers that are planning facilities is provided.
In Devens, MA, a greening park was developed as a transition strategy for a former military base. The Devens Regional Enterprise Zone provides material and by-product exchanges between companies. One example includes a producer of tofu and soy products, which had a biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) surcharge problem that cost $100,000 annually. The producer now dries its waste stream and sells it to a pet food manufacturer. It has converted a waste stream into a revenue stream.
One of the largest greening industrial parks is Partners in Progress Green: A Pearson Eco-Business Zone, sponsored by the Greater Toronto Airports Authority and the Toronto Region Conservation. The Zone includes 10,000 businesses adjacent to Pearson International Airport in Toronto. The goal of the Eco-Business Zone is to increase competitiveness of high performance and eco-friendly business climate. Specific goals are to
- Demonstrate that the simultaneous pursuit of economic and ecological goals results in greater benefits for the business community;
- Assist businesses to improve their financial and environmental performance; and,
- Attract and retain investments in eco-economic development initiatives.