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Eco-industrial parks: resource efficiency and industrial symbiosis

13 December 2023 Nisasia Ekafitrina and Charles Arthur

Da Nang EIP

Photo: Entrance to the Hoa Khanh Industrial Zone (Da Nang), one of five industrial zones in Viet Nam transitioning to become eco-industrial parks.

Over 57 million kilowatt-hours of energy, over two million cubic metres of water and nearly 18,000 metric tonnes of materials were saved during the first phase of the Global Eco-Industrial Park Programme (GEIPP). The programme, which ran in Colombia, Egypt, Indonesia, Peru, South Africa, Ukraine and Viet Nam between 2018 and 2023, was implemented by United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and funded by the Swiss State Secretariat of Economic Affairs (SECO).

Eco-industrial parks (EIP) are managed industrial areas that promote cross-industry and community collaboration for common benefits related to economic, social and environmental performance. The concept involves interrelated aspects, including resource efficient and cleaner production, industrial symbiosis, reductions in emissions and pollution, social standards, shared infrastructure and improved management of risks. 

UNIDO provides a range of services to help the countries participating in the GEIPP to establish eco-industrial parks and/or transform existing industrial zones. These services include identifying EIP activities which are most suitable and most effective, raising awareness among key stakeholder groups of the benefits of EIPs, providing policy support to translate the EIP concept into national policies, developing and advising on park management, and providing technical support to upscale resource efficiency and industrial symbiosis.

metal worker

Speaking at a ceremony at the UNIDO headquarters in Vienna marking the conclusion of the first phase of the GEIPP, Heinz Leuenberger, an expert in natural resource efficiency and cleaner industrial production, and Professor at the University of Applied Sciences and Arts, Northwestern Switzerland, said, "Eco-industrial parks are a key approach to achieve a higher resource efficiency and better social and economic performance in manufacturing industry."

Leuenberger emphasized the pivotal role that eco-industrial parks play in promoting inclusive and sustainable industrial development and a circular economy.

UNIDO project manager, Christian Susan explained that bringing different industries into closer proximity in eco-industrial parks allow companies in the parks to exchange raw materials, energy source, by-products and waste. “This collaborative effort - industrial symbiosis - enables companies to gain a competitive advantage and reduce waste and emissions.”

Susan highlighted an example of industrial symbiosis at one of the DEEP C Industrial Zones in Viet Nam where glass grinding powder was identified as a filling material for road construction. When discarded in landfills, glass waste is problematic due to its non-decomposable nature, and thus, by encouraging the reuse of glass grinding powder, waste can be minimized. The result is an annual saving of 3,000 metric tonnes of waste.

An example of resource efficiency is the Amata Industrial Park, Dong Nai, Viet Nam, one of five pilot industrial parks in the country transitioning to become an eco-industrial park. UNIDO experts have provided technical assistance to the park management and to manufacturing companies inside the park, and have identified 12 opportunities for resource efficient and cleaner production. Six of them have already been implemented, bringing economic and environmental benefits to the companies and the park.

Nguyen Thi Bich Ngoc
Photo caption: March 2023, Nguyen Thi Bich Ngoc, Viet Nam’s Deputy Minister of Planning and Investment, lauded UNIDO for its great efforts to support the building of policies for the development of the eco-industrial park model, and to provide technical assistance for converting traditional industrial zones into eco-industrial parks.

Another example of the impact of the GEIPP is in Ukraine where the UNIDO project has been working with the Ministry of Economy of Ukraine to mainstream eco-industrial parks into national policy. An EIP policy working group was established by the Ministry to review and amend current legislation. On March 14 2023, the government adopted a decree amending the laws on priority actions for Ukraine to include reference to eco-industrial park concept implementation.  

To unleash the potential of Eco-Industrial Park concepts and practices, UNIDO has developed a set of EIP tools, guides and online training courses for industrial parks and policymakers. By using the tools parks and countries can advance the transformation of industrial parks and zones towards EIPs.

For further Information:

Christian Susan, UNIDO Industrial Development Officer, GEIPP Project Manager.  Email: Christian Susan

Further reading:

UNIDO and SECO launch second phase of Global Eco-Industrial Parks Programme