As featured in Engineering News – December 2021

With the greening of the economy in the spotlight, a need for a dedicated project focused on improving and promoting resource efficiency and cleaner production in industrial parks is inevitable and necessary. A transformation to eco-industrial parks (EIP) therefore not only promotes the green agenda, but also improves the economic and social performance of businesses.

In December 2020, the Department of Trade Industry and Competition (the dtic) and the National Cleaner Production Centre South Africa (NCPC-SA), in partnership with the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) and the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), launched the Global Eco-Industrial Parks Programme (GEIPP) in South Africa. The programme aims to see the EIP concept incentivised and mainstreamed with government policy to create opportunities for sustainable industrial development in parks around the country.

The implementation of the programme was rolled out by the NCPC-SA in 2021 to continue until 2023. To date, strides have been made to capacitate industrial park management and tenants with skills and tools to realise the transformation and the benefits that EIPs have to offer.

Park assessments have been conducted in nine industrial parks thus far, assessing operations against the UNIDO EIP toolkit. Resource efficiency assessments with tenant companies in pilot industrial parks are also underway to identify areas of potential efficiency improvements across energy, water and materials.

What is an Eco-Industrial Park (EIP)?

An EIP is a community of manufacturing and service businesses located together on common property. Member businesses seek enhanced environmental, economic and social performance through collaboration in managing environmental and resource issues.

Key components of an EIP

While traditional industrial parks typically only provide land, electricity and water billing, basic maintenance and security, UNIDO developed an approach that highlights the components of an EIP. The spatial planning and zoning of EIPs encourage community collaboration and are integrated into the regional master plans – enhancing the economic and competitive advantage while promoting a healthy integrated workforce. EIPs are designed to enable resource efficiency and cleaner production thereby, allowing for an exchange of resources between tenants and promoting circular economy practices.

The Focus Areas and Challenges

Special economic zones (SEZs), industrial development zones (IDZs) and industrial parks are a key mechanism for escalating local economic and industrial development. These geographically designated areas generally encourage specific economic activities by using support measures for investments and technology. But industrial parks are often faced with challenges such as no master plans and poor integration of services, tenants and communities which the EIP model addresses.

Visit the UNIDO website to access an International Guideline for Industrial Parks to support the EIP concept planning approach.

The benefits of an EIP model

Businesses can be attracted to an industrial park due to cost benefits associated with co-location and supply security of water, energy, and materials. Operating in proximity generates economies of scale, which reduces operational costs for companies sharing common suppliers or services. It encourages innovation, which leads to opportunities for the development of new industries, especially firms capable of using waste and by-products. This also enables the optimal capitalization on geographical location of the industry or cluster.

The EIP model helps mitigate environmental harm which also translated into better health of tenants, their employees and the surrounding communities through RECP. In addition, there are direct business incentives linked to RECP or going green that can help parks and tenant companies to save costs.

About the Global Eco-Industrial Park Programme (GEIPP)

The GEIPP demonstrates the viability and benefits of scaling up resource productivity and improving economic, environmental and social performances of businesses, thereby contributing to inclusive and sustainable industrial development in the participating developing and transition economies. The GEIPP (2019-2023) programme is funded by the Swiss Government through the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO).

Contact details:

Julie Wells (Operations and Communications Manager)

Email: jwells@csir.co.za or ncpc@csir.co.za