An eco-industrial park (EIP) can be defined as a cluster of businesses that cooperate with each other and with the local community to efficiently share resources, leading to both economic and environmental gains. Currently, there are numerous such parks worldwide and approximately a half dozen in Canada, and the waste management industry’s infrastructure is a perfect candidate to expand this concept.
Eco-industrial parks developed from the concepts of industrial ecology whereby the consumption of energy and materials is optimized and the effluents of one process serve as the feedstock of another, mimicking natural ecosystems.
In Canada, examples of EIPs can be found in Fort McMurray, Alberta, Halifax, Nova Scotia, and Bruce County, Ontario. Other communities are planning such parks, including Dufferin County in Ontario.
The TaigaNova eco-industrial park within the Municipality of Wood Buffalo (near Fort McMurray) consists of 131 acres on 27 lots. Businesses in the EIP are required, through a land use bylaw, to consider by-product synergy as well as consider strategies to reduce resource use, reduce waste generation, and increase land use efficiency. By-product synergies, in which waste from one company is feedstock for a neighbouring facility, is facilitated through the Wood Buffalo Housing and Development Corporation.
Chester, Nova Scotia
Hailed as Nova Scotia’s first eco-industrial park, the Kaizer Meadows Eco-Business Park in the District of Chester (about an hour’s drive out of Halifax) got a kick start with federal funding for infrastructure upgrades. The park, adjacent to the district’s landfill, is focused on attracting synergistic industries related directly to sustainable development.
The EIPs first tenant, signed in 2009, was Rainbow Net and Rigging — a commercial fishing enterprise, primarily selling equipment. By moving there, Rainbow Net and Rigging was able to bring its net cleaning and repair services to the EIP.
One of the great features of the Chester EIP is its distant location from residences. This is ideal for companies that may generate odours, noise, or other nuisance emissions.
Bruce County, Ontario
Located on the eastern shore of Lake Huron in Ontario, the Bruce County EIP is centred on the Bruce Nuclear Power Development. It’s designed as the “Renewable Energy Cluster of Ontario” with the goal of having ethanol, bio-diesel, and bioenergy created from companies within the park that secured feedstock from the surrounding agricultural community and each other. (One company’s by-product is another’s raw material.)
The EIP was kick-started and is currently managed by Canadian Agra Inc. — a company with over 30 decades of experience in integrating sustainable agriculture, renewable energy and the environment.
The management of the EIP assists the tenants in establishing and facilitating a network for the by-products they produce, including the investigation of possible uses for by-products. Canadian Agra Inc. also seeks new industry that takes advantage of by-products.
The current tenants at the EIP include a greenhouse, a dehydration plant, a brewery, a biodegradable plastic film processor, and an alcohol plant.
There’s an anaerobic digester on site that turns waste manure and pre-treated municipal solid waste to biogas. The biogas is burned in a co-generation facility to create steam that’s used by the alcohol plant and dehydrator. Sludge from the digester is used by the greenhouse operation on site and nearby farmers as fertilizer.
Dufferin County, Ontario
There are efforts in other areas of Canada to establish EIPs. In Dufferin County Ontario (about a one hour drive from Toronto), plans to establish the Dufferin eco-energy park (DEEP) have been in the works as far back as 2008. The plan is for a number of environment-related industries to occupy land adjacent to the county’s future landfill site.
As of April 2013, two key private sector partners — Canada Com-post-ing Inc. and Alter NRG (a waste-to-energy company) — have pulled back from siting facilities at DEEP due to financial setbacks The only remaining major commitment is from a nearby municipality that wants to site a source-separated organics facility at DEEP.
EIPs are no sure fire solution to the economic woes of a municipality, although it seems inevitable that municipalities will continue to explore their development. The promise of employment, a clean environment, and community acceptance by EIP promoters is too fetching for municipalities to ignore.
John Nicholson, M.Sc., P.Eng., is a consultant based in
Contact John at email@example.com