Institute For Sustainable Innovation

Opinions

17.02.2017

We live in the era of change, in the period of transformation of the world economy. The society has a harmful impact on the environment through a linear economy based on the cycle "buy-use-throw away", our unjustified dependence on natural resources, "ecological footprint" that exceeds the planet capability, environmental impact of poorer countries and uneven distribution of social and environmental achievements of economic globalization. Therefore, in order to achieve well-being within the planet ecological capability, it’s necessary to make fundamental changes in the existing production and consumption systems, which are the key reason of the dangerous impact on the environment and climate.

It is crucially important to reduce the level of environmental vulnerability of cities and towns. Today, the risks to public health from air, drinking water, soil and noise pollution increase in many of them, along with loss of natural environment and biodiversity resulted from environmentally unjustified decisions on town planning; also there are sources of increased danger created by industrial facilities. It is necessary to reconsider fundamental ideas of the development policy for urban territories in the context of green growth. Orientation to green growth implies pollution prevention and waste reduction in the production and consumption processes by saving raw materials and energy and, as a result, increasing output.

At present, in the course of the beginning establishment of a new technological order in a number of the most economically developed countries, there is a transition from industrial parks to eco-industrial parks (EIPs). These are significant changes that shape new requirements for the use and planning of urban areas with a special regime for environmental management. The development of industrial parks in Russia should be planned taking into account these basic trends.

Eco-industrial parks as a form of organization of natural and man-made complexes, unlike existing industrial zones, are arranged in such a way that production is carried out in a closed system that is similar to natural ecosystems, i.e. waste or by-products in one production chain are raw materials for another production chain. This approach goes beyond the traditional approach of pollution control "at the end of the pipe" and promotes "thinking like ecosystems" approach.

It is important to note that implementation of this approach is possible only for groups of enterprises whose production processes correlate with each other, which gives an opportunity to use natural resources efficiently and reduce costs inside the enterprises and between them. Minimizing the use of resources can be achieved through technological innovation, recycling of materials, replacement of materials and search for alternatives for the disposal of the product through the exchange relationships with other enterprises. An important element of EIPs is the use of renewable energy sources. This is, first of all, solar energy, as well as its derivatives: wind, biomass, water energy, etc. It is significant that all the above-mentioned measures make it possible to increase the energy efficiency of EIPs, significantly reduce the negative impact on the environment, minimize the use of resources and hazardous raw materials, and reduce the costs of enterprises.

In general, it can be said that EIPs are sustainable industrial parks, where the concepts of industrial ecology are implemented based on the following principles: energy efficiency, low-waste production and, above all, industrial symbiosis. They emerged as a response to pressing issues, thanks to their innovative nature of achievement economic goals together with environmental ones.

Georgy Fomenko, Natalia Shoronina


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