The Importance Of Evolutionary Approaches

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Currently, interest in industrial symbiosis is running high, from clusters of brewers and cement manufacturers in Japan (Kimura and Taniguchi 1999) to government planning in the Philippines (Bateman 1999), to sustained Canadian emphasis (Environment Canada 1997) and global curiosity. To date, however, few eco-industrial parks have broken ground. The most significant conclusion to be drawn reinforces what was experienced in Kalundborg: cooperation develops over time. Therefore evolutionary approaches are key to moving industrial symbiosis forward.

One approach, known as green twinning or by-product synergy, consists of a single material or energy exchange. The exchange stands on its own environmentally and economically but, by example, could lead to other types of exchanges. Typical instances would be co-generation of steam and electricity, use of recirculated water or conversion of ash into a building material. Each has the potential to be the initial stage of broader industrial symbiosis. In Texas, Chaparral Steel and its related company, Texas Industries, developed a newly patented process to add slag from the steel plant to the raw material cement mix of Texas Industries (Forward and Mangan 1999). As a result, cement production increased by 10 per cent and energy consumption dropped by more than 10 per cent. The value of the slag increased by 20 times over the previous market price offered by road contractors and landfill costs dropped significantly. Moreover, the twinning has led to additional by-product re-use including baghouse dust drawn from air filtering equipment and automobile shredder residue.

In Kalundborg, companies did not become partners to work on industrial symbiosis, but came to their partnership through organizational relationships begun to solve a common problem: the need to find a surface water source. From this relationship, other symbiotic ideas emerged. A by-product synergy project in Tampico, Mexico, organized through the Business Council for Sustainable Development of the Gulf of Mexico, relied on an existing industry association in the Tampico-Ciudad Madero-Altamira region for a demonstration project there. The final report notes that the project was able to take advantage of the association's structure and relationships (Business Council for Sustainable Development - Gulf of Mexico 1999).

A third evolutionary approach, borrowing elements from the other two, has been dubbed the anchor tenant model. Just as shopping malls are built around several large department stores that anchor the commercial development within, one or two large industries can provide the same critical mass for an eco-industrial park. AES power plants are anchors for developing projects in Guayama, Puerto Rico and Londonderry, New Hampshire (Chertow 2000b). An existing nuclear plant anchors the Bruce Energy Center in Tiverton, Ontario, which incorporates a hydroponic greenhouse, a food processor and a manufacturer of commercial alcohols to take advantage of waste heat and steam generation from the plant (Peck and Ierfino 1998). This concept is very important, given the restructuring in the electricity industry, because every new power plant could become the anchor tenant of a surrounding eco-industrial park (Chertow 1999b). While the barriers to successful, conscious industrial symbiosis are many, the legacy of Kalundborg has inspired one of the great metaphors of industrial ecology: the industrial ecosystem. Key to the implementation of industrial symbiosis is sufficient economic incentive, technological cooperation and great human perseverance.

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