Examples Of Environmental Initiatives In Industrial Estates

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The above discussion has so far been somewhat abstract. Have any of the principles been applied, and what have been the results? The best-known example of industrial symbiosis is that of Kalundborg (UNEP 1996, p.6; see also Chapter 27), in Denmark, although it is not a managed estate. Here a high level of synergy has been achieved by re-use of the waste flows between a number of industries. This situation was never 'designed in'; it has slowly evolved on its own over the years. In a new estate project the possibility of such synergies could be built in from the start. It should be noted that Kalundborg is rarely cited for maximizing other environmental outcomes such as biodiversity, hazardous chemical control, industrial safety or even product policy. The composition of other parts of the waste stream not currently recovered is unknown, a deficiency from a total waste management point of view. Despite its obvious success in achieving symbiosis in some areas of waste management, even Kalundborg has some way to go before it becomes a model 'ecology' from a sustainable development point of view.

Some estates have focused on managing a different ecology dimension. Rather than focusing on materials and energy, the ValuePark operated by Dow Chemicals in Germany (personal communication) has concentrated on cooperation in other business values such as buildings, transport, storage and sales, effectively creating synergies at the product end of the industrial cycle rather than at the waste end. In terms of industrial ecology, this may well be a sign for the future. New industrial plants are generally much cleaner than their older homologues, and offer fewer opportunities for synergies based on exchange of surplus materials.

An example of a comprehensive, traditional 'command and control' approach to environment in established estates can be seen in the Jebel Ali Free Zone Authority in Dubai. Here strict entry standards apply to industries wishing to locate there, and require an environmental impact assessment from each applicant. Permission to locate in the estate is contingent on the applicant demonstrating appropriate control and treatment of industrial emissions. Discharges and emissions are tightly regulated, and new waste disposal facilities - both for dry waste and for chemicals - have been provided under an arrangement with the Dubai municipality. As in most such estates, 'environment' is associated with the pollution agenda. The broader sustainability issues in Agenda 21 are not yet included in the estate's action plan.

The application of ISO 14000 by estates is a recent but rapidly growing trend. This can be seen especially in Southeast Asia, for example Batamindo in Indonesia, but also gradually in Europe, as with the Plaine de l'Ain in France. The Industrial Estate Authority of Thailand has the objective of eventually certifying all of the 20-odd estates under its control. Several private estates in Thailand have already taken steps towards certification. The environmental action plans of such estates cover for the moment only the services actually provided by the estate, such as common waste treatment and disposal and maintenance of the site. They do not include the operations of tenant companies where the majority of the pollution and waste is actually produced. With increased experience in the application of such systems it can be expected that, eventually, such estate management systems will also include other environmental issues, and perhaps even cover the environmental interaction between the estate and its corporate tenants.

A major environmental challenge for the estate remains the administrative and management mechanisms for achieving synergies across all operations (including tenants). The French PALME model (Orée 1995; UNEP 1997) has tried to address this through the prior (that is, before development begins) negotiation of a social contract with all relevant stakeholders. These stakeholders not only identify their own environmental objectives and concerns, but commit themselves to specific contributions to make the final plan work. The stakeholders include service agencies such as energy and transport, but also local civic groups and local government who accept the final negotiated compromise. The final written agreement includes an action plan listing the commitment of all stakeholders. Two recent estates in France, in Boulogne-sur-Mer and in Chalon-sur-Saône, are currently trying this approach of consensus building around environmental and social objectives.

As information remains the key to taking environmental action, the example of the Environmental Information Center in Burnside Park, Nova Scotia, Canada also merits attention (Côté 1994; Burnside at http://www.dal.ca/eco-burnside). The center is an independent initiative of Dalhousie University, supported by local government and the estate management itself (which here is part of local government). The center is staffed by several professionals who prepare information on waste reduction, recycling and management options, as well as other aspects of the environmental agenda. The staff works with individual companies as well as with the estate personnel.

The examples closest to policy-driven estate development are found in the 'brownfields' developments on degraded industrial sites in several North American locations (CohenRosenthal, in UNEP 1996, p.14). The political imperatives of site rehabilitation and job creation in disadvantaged communities leads naturally to the concurrent adoption of a comprehensive environmental agenda for the estate development. A wide variety of policy outcomes have been formulated for such projects, including recycling, energy conservation, sustainable and socially useful products, re-establishment of natural areas and community health. The achievement of such a broad agenda is facilitated by the injection of public funds, although a range of management models has been found.

The above provides a number of different models in the direction of an industrial ecology approach through application of concrete management systems. No single estate has yet combined all these elements in a comprehensive way, with the result that the progress is still quite uneven.

In nearly all cases so far, the estate management has focused on actions over which the estate manager himself has full management control rather than actions by the companies in the estate. With the exception of the PALME model, there has been relatively little effort to explore the options for cooperative management. It remains to be seen how and when the estate manager elsewhere takes the initiative to provide environmental brokerage services to enable companies to achieve such synergies more quickly and more easily than is the case at present.

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