Methodology for capturing environmental, social and economic implications of industrial symbiosis in heavy industrial areas
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Industrial operations have been attributed to causing social and environmental problems such as: acid rain; greenhouse gas emissions, air, water and soil pollution; plus health problems to neighbourhood communities. With the 3P (people, planet, profit) approach for sustainability as the background, there have been movements to establish the concept of eco-industrial development in existing or new industrial areas from the planning stage onwards. Industrial ecology (IE) is the operation of an industrial ecosystem which is based on the principles of operation of a natural ecosystem. Industrial symbiosis (IS), one of the principal applications of IE, is defined as inter-firm collaboration, where a network of industries collaborates in exchange of products, by-products, information, resources and wastes to reduce their collective environmental footprint to achieve mutual benefits.Industrial symbiosis is a collaborative process of industries geographically located in an industrial park, which facilitates and enables an exchange of products, by-products and wastes to reduce the collective adverse impacts of the emission during the operation of these industries. However, IS faces a number of barriers. Importantly, it has been identified that there is a critical impediment to implementing future IS practices in the area. This is because of the number of barriers such as technical, regulatory, commercial as well as informational. In addition, there is an absence of a proven and well established evaluation methodology to identify the benefits of such practice. The true implications of IS might therefore remain underestimated, thereby failing to convince industry, government and the community to realize the opportunities IS can bring in attaining goals of sustainability in their operations.The aim of this PhD research was to develop and trial a method for capturing the life cycle environmental, social and economic implications of industrial symbiosis in heavy industrial areas. This research was based on multi-disciplinary approach of examining environmental, social and financial aspects to develop an integrated method. In the Kwinana industrial Area (KIA), the primary research area in Western Australia, the opportunities were significant for such industrial symbiosis to happen because of the co-location of diverse industries. The research hypothesis that informs this thesis is that the assessment of implications of present IS might bring further opportunities for enhancing symbiosis between industries. Though the primary emphasis of the research was in the Kwinana Industrial Area, this approach could be applied to other heavy industrial areas. This site could be significant both nationally and internationally in providing a platform for business responses to regional sustainable development challenges, by documenting best practice and improving approaches for implementing industrial symbiosis.This research addressed the objectives by using the developed Six Capitals Model (SCM) for identifying environmental, social and economic benefits. The values under these dimensions were analysed with regard to natural, ecosystem, human, social, financial and manufactured capitals for a project of wastewater reclamation for industrial use. Under the environmental dimension, the model revealed that resource conservation and resource security were achieved as a result of the operation of this project. These results are in line with the argument that industrial symbiosis secures and conserves resources due to the possibility of reclaiming the resources that were once discarded. Water contamination has been reduced as a result of the operation of this project. This indicator shows that there is an improvement in maintaining the ecosystem capital.In terms of human capital, sharing information between industries and opportunities of sharing infrastructure and technology has been improved. Regarding community capital, sharing of information between industries and communities, has increased as a result of this project. Collaboration of government bodies, level of understanding about IS projects due to increasing communication between various stakeholders, and increase of employment opportunities are notable, as value has been generated for community capital since the project started. In terms of financial capital of the project, the majority of the participants did not gain any financial savings in terms of direct costs but rather accrued short term costs. This was due to the infrastructure cost involved as part of installation of pipes and pumps. It was also due to the high cost of the reclaimed water than the scheme water. In addition, the analysis showed that most of the participants of the project did not gain any savings in the indirect costs such as hidden and legal costs, such as permit costs, compliance costs, future fines and penalties. However, as part of manufactured capital, there were savings due to improved business opportunities as well as infrastructure, for business and community collectively.The results of this thesis show that broader benefits of symbiosis can be achieved, not only from operation of the project, but also from the influence of processes of symbiosis. Among them are connection, communication and collaboration between the project partners. There has been a substantial increase in the networking of industries and formation of multi groups for addressing various issues faced by industry and community in the Kwinana. There has also been a further increase in the transparency of information dissemination and communication through industries council’s website. In addition, there has been an improvement in the rate of participation of community members and groups in the Communities and Industries Forum (CIF) which resulted in the formation of further stakeholder groups by industries council as a platform for addressing the issues of industries and communities.IS practices strengthen the EIP concept and increase the chances of sustainable industrial development regionally due to collaboration of community of businesses and local and regional community. IS also increases the reputation and license to operate in the community. There are many advantages for using the Model developed in the thesis to assess the benefits of IS. First, the values of ecosystem values maintained are able to be accounted for in addition to natural capital values. The Six Capital Model can also account human capital values in addition to community capital. The Model also accounted the manufactured capital in addition to financial capital and it gives an opportunity to identify the value generated towards community and companies.Finally, the Model enables a calculation of the internal costs and external costs and benefits so that industries are able to understand the real cost of the projects. One of the main advantages of this method is that with, right indicators, the intangible values of the IS process can also be assessed and reported.
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