eco-industrial development and regional economic development
David Gibbs, Pauline Deutz and Qiaozhi Wang
What is industrial ecology?
In the 1990s
industrial ecology emerged as a concept that its proponents claim
can deliver the win-win-win outcome of sustainable development. At
the heart of the concept is a deceptively simple argument that
proposes a way to reduce or eliminate the negative impacts of
economic development - by drawing upon the example of natural
ecosystems we can create 'industrial ecosystems'. By mimicking
nature, industry can shift from the current wasteful linear model
of production to a circular economy, where natural resource inputs
are reduced, wastes transformed into firm inputs and energy
cascaded through the industrial ecosystem. Industrial ecology
differs from more commonplace efforts to 'green' industry in that
it fosters cooperation between firms as opposed to focusing upon
action at the level of the individual firm, seeing firms as nodal
points within a networked ecosystem. By cooperating with each other
in an industrial ecosystem, it is proposed that businesses can
improve their combined environmental performance by measures that
will also increase profit margins.
Industrial ecology research at Hull
at Hull originally stemmed from our initial observations that there
seemed to be an overlap between research undertaken on regional
development which focused on networking and trust in creating
industrial clusters, and one strand of industrial ecology research
which focused on eco-industrial parks. Eco-industrial parks have
been defined as "a community of manufacturing and service
businesses seeking enhanced environmental and economic performance
through collaboration in managing environmental and resource issues
including energy, water, and materials…the community of businesses
seeks a collective benefit that is greater than the sum of the
individual benefits each company would realise if it optimised its
individual performance (Lowe and Warren, 1996: 7.8). We were
therefore interested to see if issues of trust and 'untraded
interdependencies' were important in the formation of
eco-industrial parks. Moreover, much industrial ecology research
has been from either a scientific/engineering or a management
science perspective and we were particularly interested in trying
to theorise the development of eco-industrial parks from a critical
social science perspective. The UK's Economic and Social Research
Council funded us for a research project on these themes
(Sustainability and the Local Economy: The Role of Eco-Industrial
Parks) and the results from this are summarised below.
In a second project (Governance, Partnership and Sustainable
Industrial Development: ESRC CASE studentship with Yorkshire
Forward), Amy Proctor analysed the role of partnerships in building
sustainable industrial developments. She investigated the roles of
public, private and NGO bodies in 9 eco-industrial developments in
the UK. Whilst partnerships increased the capacity of the public
and NGO bodies, engagement with the private sector was found to be
limited. Public sector bodies played a crucial role in the
governance of the partnership process.
Currently, Ms. Qiaozhi Wang is comparing China's circular
economy programme with the UK's National Industrial Symbiosis
Programme (NISP) and examining the potential for cross-cultural
transfer of strategies for promoting industrial symbiosis. See
page for more information.
We continue to be interested in research on industrial ecology
and would welcome the opportunity to develop collaborative research
with individuals or teams outside the UK. We also welcome
applications from potential doctoral students to work with us.
Sustainability and the Local Economy: The Role of
David Gibbs and Pauline Deutz
Department of Geography, University of Hull
Award Reference Number: R000239428 to David Gibbs
Final Report to ESRC
The research project was concerned with investigating whether the
development of eco-industrial parks (EIPs) offers possibilities to
implement sustainable development policies, combining economic,
environmental and social aims. EIPs are based upon industrial
ecology (IE) principles that suggest industrial systems can be made
to operate in a similar fashion to natural ecological systems.
Firms and processes can be connected so that the wastes from one
firm or process are utilised as an input by other firms or
processes with complete or nearly complete recycling of materials
within the system. The project was intended to contribute to recent
critiques of the EIP approach by focusing upon the key problems and
dilemmas involved in developing EIPs. The original research outline
proposed investigating EIP development from a more critical
perspective, drawing upon concepts of clustering and networking in
local and regional economic development.
An email, fax and telephone survey was conducted between January
and March 2002 to collect basic background information on EIPs,
focusing on the USA and Europe. The survey produced a total of 19
responses, from both operational (14) and planned (5)
eco-industrial developments. From this survey 16 EIPs were chosen
for in-depth study (ten sites in the USA, six in Europe). These
claimed to be engaged in (or intended to be engaged in) inter-firm
networking, as well as contributing to local economic and social
objectives. At each site up to eight interviews were carried out
with park managers, project developers, local authority
representatives (planning and/or economic development),
consultants, participating firms, environmental organisations,
community representatives and chambers of commerce. A total of 53
face-to-face interviews with a total of 63 individuals were
A major finding is the sheer difficulty of developing inter-firm
exchanges and interactions, particularly materials and energy
interchanges. At most EIPs, synergies were only potential rather
than operational and in the very early stages of planning. Given
the absence of inter-firm networking it has been difficult to
develop one of the main themes of the original proposal - i.e. to
reinterpret these from the perspective of work on untraded
interdependencies, trust and networking. However, the results bear
out the initial view that EIP development has been concerned with
infrastructural provision and has assumed that relational assets
will emerge with time.
The original proposal envisaged trust and co-operation as key
factors influencing networking and interchange activity. Given the
absence of the latter, this proved difficult to investigate. There
were interactions present between businesses other than materials
or energy exchanges, including discussions aimed at setting up such
interchanges, as well as other forms of co-operative behaviour.
This represents the initial stages of building a sense of community
within the EIP. Issues of trust were important at the development
and fund raising stages where pre-existing links were often the
crucial deciding factor.
collaboration and partnership was of key importance. Local
institutional capacity was in large part based upon a history of
collaborative working on past projects within a locality and the
capacity this engendered for EIP projects. Community involvement
had often arisen at sites with a legacy of pollution from past uses
and a general community desire to support any initiative that
sought to remediate this pollution and to create a better physical
It is difficult to point to firm evidence of environmental
improvement occurring in tandem with improved business
competitiveness. There was some evidence of reduced environmental
impacts, including reduced fossil fuel dependence. However little
or no quantification had taken place for either environmental or
economic performance. Developers in the USA believed EIP
designation had helped as a marketing device and a means to create
a 'unique selling point'. However, using EIPs simply as a marketing
tool meant that lack of initial success can result in the
abandonment of the EIP strategy.
The broader economic context plays a key role in deciding the
relative success of EIP operations - those located in more
successful economic contexts were also likely to be more successful
in terms of tenant recruitment. EIP development is not a
straightforward means of overcoming the economic constraints of
Changing economic conditions have inhibited tenant recruitment
or led to the abandonment of the EIP theme in favour of more
conventional economic development aims. This was particularly
evident at some of the US EIPs, where covenants (e.g. on grey water
use, landscaping requirements, recycling, employment practices) had
been introduced at the early stages of park development to restrict
firm entry. Given the difficulty of tenant recruitment, these had
frequently been abandoned. At other locations, rather than impose
these norms upon tenants pre-entry, attempts were being made to
incorporate dynamism by recruiting tenants to a site-wide
environmental management system.
Some regulatory barriers exist, for example the case of the US
Resource Conservation and Recovery Act and its definition of
hazardous wastes. Similarly in the UK, waste management regulations
were felt to inhibit symbiotic relationships due to regulations on
storage and definition of wastes. Changes to national legislation
may be necessary to facilitate EIP development.
The policy lessons to be drawn are that developing EIPs is
likely to be a long term process and that immediate results are
unlikely to be forthcoming. Developing symbiotic relationships
between firms and encouraging networking activity is difficult to
achieve and time is needed to gain the confidence of firms and
other participants. While sympathetic to the idea that EIPs need to
develop over time through a variety of strategies, one conclusion
is that waste and energy exchanges and some form of
inter-organisational networking must be present to earn this
definition. Given that the IE and EIP literatures are largely
premised upon networking and interchange behaviour, suggesting
other features can define EIPs lacks critical engagement and runs
the same risk of ambiguity as is commonly found with sustainable
There is an issue as to whether the park element of EIPs is an
essential feature, or whether an emphasis on co-location is
actually a hindrance to achieving industrial symbiosis. There may
be more potential benefit to be gained by identifying and building
upon existing networking activities involving the exchange of waste
and energy at a wider spatial scale to develop a 'local-regional
industrial ecosystem'. Policy intervention could play an enabling
role in helping to identify these opportunities and creating the
appropriate conditions for inter-firm networking to take place.
Governance, Partnership and Sustainable Industrial
Amy Proctor, PhD awarded 2005
This project explored the role of partnership in the pursuit of
more sustainable forms of industrial development and reflects
critically upon its value as a strategy for supporting the
governance of sustainable development at a local and regional
level. The role of partnership working between the public, private
and not-for-profit sector in the development of the nine
eco-industrial development initiatives (EID) initiatives in the UK
was examined. In-depth qualitative interviews were adopted as the
principal research method.
The findings demonstrated the challenges involved in developing
sustainable industrial development activity both on a conceptual
and practical level. It was observed that partnership proved a
useful tool for enhancing the capacity of some actors (most notably
from the public and not-for-profit sector) to deliver and benefit
from EID; however, critically, partnership engagement with the
private sector proved more problematic.
A number of barriers were found to exist to encouraging the
inter-firm collaboration essential for EID. The development of EID
initiatives is proposed to fall into three stages: conception,
initiation and implementation- each of which showed different
problems of partnership working, particularly in involving funders
and private firms in stages 2 and 3. The findings indicate that the
pursuit of partnerships may be helpful, even necessary, for EID but
in the end (and for the moment at least) such partnerships are not
necessarily sufficient in themselves to ensure successful outcomes,
particularly in a sustainable industrial development context.
In terms of the
wider implications of the findings, it can be concluded that
partnership has the potential to be effective as a vehicle for
strengthening local and regional governance for sustainable
development; the critical issue in the case of sustainable
industrial development is securing the involvement of the private
sector. Whilst participation and engagement in sustainable
development was being extended to non-government stakeholders
through partnership, the government sector was still found to be
crucial in governing the governance process.
Deutz, P (accepted) Producer responsibility in a sustainable
development context: Ecological modernisation or industrial
ecology? The Geographical Journal.
Deutz, P. and Gibbs, D. (2008) Industrial ecology and regional
development: Eco-industrial development as cluster policy.
Regional Studies. 42 (10) 1313-1328.
Deutz, P. and Gibbs, D. (2004) 'Eco-industrial development and
regional restructuring: Industrial ecology or marketing tool?'
Business Strategy and the Environment No.13, pp.347-362.
Part of special issue: 'Business and Industrial Ecology'.
Deutz, P. and Lyons, D.I. (2008) Editorial: industrial symbiosis
- An environmental perspective on regional development.
Regional Studies, 42 (10) 1295-1298.
Deutz, P., Lyons, D., Gibbs, D. and Jackson, T. (2007) Editorial
to double special issue of Progress in Industrial Ecology:
Industrial ecology and regional development, v. 4 (3/4) p.
Gibbs, D (in press) Eco-industrial parks and industrial ecology:
strategic niche or mainstream development? in F Boons and J
Howard-Grenville (eds.) Industrial Ecology: Social Science
Perspectives, Edward Elgar.
Gibbs, D (2009) Sustainable entrepreneurs, ecopreneurs and the
development of a sustainable economy, Greener Management
Gibbs, D (2008) Industrial symbiosis and eco-industrial
development: An introduction, Geography Compass, 2/4,
Gibbs, D (2003) Ecological modernisation and local economic
development: The growth of eco-industrial development initiatives,
International Journal of Environment and Sustainable
Development, 2 (3), 1-17.
Gibbs, D (2003) Trust and networking in interfirm relations: the
case of eco-industrial development, Local Economy, 18(3),
Gibbs, D.C., and Deutz, P., (2007), Reflections on implementing
industrial ecology through eco-industrial park development.
Journal of Cleaner Production, 15, 1683 - 1695. Part of
special issue: 'From Material Flow Analysis to Material Flow
Gibbs, D.C., and Deutz, P., (2005), Implementing Industrial
Ecology? Planning for eco-industrial parks in the USA.
Geoforum, 36, 452-464.
Gibbs, D.C., Deutz, P., and Proctor, A., (2005), Industrial
Ecology and Eco-industrial Development: A New Paradigm for Local
and Regional Development? Regional Studies. v. 39, p.
McManus, P and Gibbs, D (2008) Industrial ecosystems? The use of
tropes in the industrial ecology and eco-industrial park
literature, Progress in Human Geography 32(4),
Adams, J.D. and Deutz, P. 2006, Industrial ecology: Illuminating
analogy, or misguided metaphor? Invited presentation to the
University of Teesside's EPSRC funded Industrial Symbiosis Network
workshop, University of Hull, 20 October, 2006.
Deutz, P., 2006, Producer responsibility in a sustainable
development context: Ecological modernisation or industrial
ecology? Presented at the RGS-IBG annual conference, London, 30 Aug
- 1 September, 2006. Supported by HERI.
Deutz, P., 2006, End of Life Vehicle Directive as regulation for
interfirm co-operation: a critical study of industrial ecology as a
policy initiative. Presented at the 12th Annual International
Sustainable Development Research Conference, Hong Kong, 6-8 April,
2006. Supported by the British Academy.
Deutz, P. and Gibbs, D.C., 2005, Industrial ecology,
eco-industrial development and regional development: The role of
clustering and networks. Presented at 11th Annual International
Sustainable Development Research, Helsinki, 6-8 June 2005.
Supported by HERI.
Deutz, P., and Gibbs, D.C., 2004, Eco-industrial developments as
a tool for sustainable development. Paper presented at the RECOURSE
meeting Society, economy, environment - Towards the sustainable
city Gdansk, Poland, 12-14 September, 2004.
Deutz, P., and Gibbs, D.C., 2004, Eco-industrial parks as
business clusters and networks: Interrelationships of economic
geography and industrial ecology in theory and practice. Paper
presented at the Annual Meeting of the RGS-IBG (joint with IGU),
Glasgow 15-20 August, 2004.
Deutz, P., and Gibbs, D.C., 2004, Eco-Industrial Development: an
exercise in public-private co-operation. Paper presented to the
Annual Meeting of the Association of American Geographers,
Philadelphia, 14-19 March 2004.
Deutz, P., and Gibbs, D.C., 2003, Eco-industrial development and
regional restructuring: Industrial ecology or marketing tool? Paper
presented to the Reinventing Regions in the Global Economy
conference, Regional Studies Association, Pisa, Italy 12 -15 April
Deutz, P., Gibbs, D.C., and Proctor, A.L., 2003, Eco-industrial
development: Its potential as a stimulator of local economic
development. Paper presented to the Annual Meeting of the
Association of American Geographers, New Orleans, 4-8 March
Gibbs, D.C., and Deutz, P., 2003, Eco-industrial development and
regional restructuring: industrial ecology or marketing tool? Paper
presented to the Business and Industrial Ecology Symposium,
Business Strategy and the Environment Conference, University of
Leicester, 16 September 2003.
Gibbs, D., Deutz, P., Proctor, A., and Jones, G. 2002,
Eco-industrial parks and sustainable waste management. On-line
conference at www.environment-2002.com, 4/11/2002-15/11/2002.
Gibbs, D., Deutz, P. and Proctor, A., 2002, Sustainability and
the local economy: the role of eco-industrial parks, ecosites and
eco-centres in Europe, Brussels, 19th June 2002.
Proctor, A., 2004, Addressing issues of scale in industrial
ecology: local and regional approaches to eco-industrial
development in the UK. Paper presented to the Annual Meeting of the
Association of American Geographers, Philadelphia, 14-19 March
Proctor, A., 2003, Regional restructuring for sustainable
development: the potential role of ecosites. Paper presented to the
Reinventing Regions in the Global Economy conference, Regional
Studies Association, Pisa, Italy 12 -15 April 2003.
Conference Sessions and Journal Special Issues
Deutz, P. Lyons. D., Randles, S. and Agarwal A., 2009
Industrial symbiosis, eco-industrial networking and regional
sustainability. Invited session for 15th Annual International
Sustainable Development Research Conference, Utrecht, 5-8 July,
Lyons, D. and Deutz, P. 2008 Regional Sustainable
Development. Invited session for 14th Annual International
Sustainable Development Research Conference, New Delhi, 27-29
September, 2008. Special issue in preparation for Sustainable
Deutz, P., Lyons, D., Gibbs, D., Jackson, T. Industrial Ecology
and Regional Development. 11th Annual International Sustainable
Development Research Conference, Helsinki, 6-8 June 2005.
Contributed to double special issue of Progress in Industrial
Ecology v 4 (3/4), 2007.
Deutz, P. and Lyons, D. Industrial Ecology and Economic
Geography, RGS-IBG Glasgow, 2004. Contributed to double special
issue of Progress in Industrial Ecology v 4 (3/4),
Deutz, P. and Lyons, D. Industrial Ecology and Geography. AAG,
Philadelphia April 2004. Resulted in mini themed issue of
Regional Studies, v 42 (10), 2008.
Deutz, P. and Gibbs, D., 2007 Implementation of Industrial
Symbiosis through Eco-industrial Park Development: The USA, UK and
France. International Conference on Eco-Industrial Development
(Aree Produttive Ecologicamente Attrezzate). Provincia di
Deutz, P. and Gibbs, D. 2005, Eco-industrial Parks: The USA
Scence. Presentation to Renew Tees Valley conference: Environmental
Industries Park in Tees Valley, Middlesbrough, 20 September,
Deutz, P. and Gibbs, D.C., (2004) Sustainability and the Local
Economy: The role of Eco-Industrial Parks. In Dallemand, J.F., and
Mottram, L.C., eds. Ecosites, Ecocentres and the implementation of
European Union environment and sustainable development policies,
Proctor, A.L., Deutz, P., and Gibbs, D.C., 2002, Eco-industrial
development in Europe and the United States. Poster presented at
'Sustainable development: The way ahead for Yorkshire and Humber',
organised by Yorkshire Forward, 21.11.02, Harrogate.
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