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  South Korean EIP Initiative

Korea has launched an ambitious eco-industrial park (EIP) initiative, under the leadership of the Korean National Cleaner Production Center. Six industrial parks or complexes are seeking to qualify to become eco-industrial parks through a variety of strategies. (Some of these projects are actually clusters of several industrial parks.) KNCPC has developed a master plan for this process and a number of academic experts are supporting the individual projects. Eventually, this initiative aims to encourage all Korean industrial parks to achieve the transition to becoming EIPs. Korean National Cleaner Production Center

The Korean EIP initiative is notable for the potential impact on all industrial parks in Korea intended in the long term. South Korea has a total of 504 industrial parks, with 35 large national parks or complexes on 2/3rd of the total land for industrial parks (total = 66,635 hectares or 164,440 acres).  The initiative links cleaner production and industrial ecology, seeking a comprehensive approach to improving environmental, social, and business performance in Korean industry. Success in implementing this approach will have profound implications for competitiveness of the Korean economy.

The six industrial complexes that are pilot projects in the EIP initiative are:

  • Banwol & Siwha in the southern part of the Seoul metropolitan area. The neighboring parks have a total of 7860 acres,  3180 hectares, with ca 5,400 small to medium enterprises. Typical ndustries include textile, dying, pulp & paper, and chemical plants, small manufacturers, and waste incinerators.
  • Mipo and Onsan industrial complexes are in Ulsan (SE Korea): Mipo covers 9968 acres, 4033 hectares. Dominant industries are automobile manufacting, ship building, and one of the world's largest petrochemical complexes. Onsan's size is 3765 acres, 1524 ha. Nonferrous metals, steel, and metal manufacturers are the major industries. The two parks include a total of 700 companies.
  • Yeosu in the southern part of Korea has 7736 acres, 3130 hectares and is primarily a petrochemical complex and oil refinery with 149 companies.
  • Cheongju industrial complex has 1010 acres, 410 hectares of land, with 200 companies. Major industries are food, textile, paper-mill, petrochemical, electronics, non-ferrous metals, metal manufacturing and assembly.
  • Three clusters of smaller industrial parks include Machun Industrial Complex at Jinhae, Chilso Industrial Complex at Haman, and Sangpyeong Industrial Complex at Jinju. Jinhae complex is 150 acres or 61 hectares, Haman, 760 acres, 307 hectares and Jinju 528 acres or 214 hectares. The three clusters are around 50 km apart. Most of 550 companies in these locally managed parks are small and medium enterprises.  Industries at Jinhae include non-ferrous metal, steel, and machinery and at Jinju, food, textile, pulp, and chemical. Haman if half vacant.
  • Pohang industrial complex has 49,70 acres, 2010 hectares with 220 companies in steel, cement, and waste disposal.

The Korean EIP initiative is relatively new and participants are still learning the basics of eco-industrial development. As frequently happens, the exchange of by-products among companies is one of the early steps these projects have taken. Academics supporting the industrial parks at Ulsan and Yeosu have done material flow analysis, searching for opportunities to increase utilization of by-products.

In November 2004 the KNCPC organized The 2nd International Conference on Industrial Ecology and Eco-Industrial Parks in Seoul, with Indigo Development providing presentations on a systems view of EIPs. Indigo also led two workshops with teams from 5 of the 6 pilot estates. The City of Ulsan held an Eco-Polis Symposium following the conference to raise awareness on its two EIP projects.

On the basis of these experiences, Ernest Lowe and Anthony Chiu developed the following "Critical Success Factors".

Critical success factors for the transition from industrial park to eco-industrial park in Korea

These critical success factors emerged from Indigo's consulting and research in Korea but are generally applicable across EIP projects in other countries.

Management and Organizational Factors

1. Cooperation among the national agencies with responsibility for EIPs or standard industrial park development is quite important.

Ministry of Industry, Commerce, and Energy, Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Construction and Transportation, and specific centers like Korea Industrial Complex Organization (KIKOX) and Korean Land Development Corporation need to be working together in support of the EIP initiative with coordination by the Korean National Cleaner Production Center.
Within KNCPC there should be at least one full time staff person with primary responsibility for managing the EIP process.

More generally, any significant initiative to transition standard industrail parks to eco-industrial parks and develop new EIPs requires participation of the agencies responsible for economic development, environmental protection, construction, transportation, and non-gvernmental organizations, including both environmental and business associations. In Korea and Thailand there there are organizations specific to development and management of industrial estates/parks.

2. Each pilot industrial park requires an adequate management structure for coordination and cooperation supporting the transition to an EIP.

The management should include at least one staff person responsible for integrating standard management functions with the EIP transition process (specifically defined in a job description). This requires coordination among the formal organization managing the park, associations of companies in the park, city offices (which in some cases will be the formal entity), and NGOs representing community interests. Coordination should include an intranet with access to a geographic information system and e-forums for discussion of special issues and innovations.

The management of each park needs to create strong channels of communication with the neighboring communities, including NGOs, individual residents as well as public authorities. A community access web site and open door policy enable this kind of communication.

3. Both public management authorities and business associations require capacity development and education so they can participate effectively in the EIP initiative.

The conferences and study tours in the Korean EIP strategic plan are means of achieving this capacity development, but more is needed in an action learning mode. Options include workshops focused on specific pilot projects, a distance learning program that links international and local experts with project teams, and university courses and short-courses. 

4. Businesses in the park need to be involved from the beginning in the planning process. They are the ultimate actors in the system.

This is a critical success factor that must be present for any EIP transition process. Early involvement of company management assures that the project is guided by their perceptions of issues, needs, resources, and opportunities. Each company in a park seeking to become an EIP should have one staff person with EIP involvement in his job description. Industrial park staff should distribute educational materials that indicate the business advantages of participation. Trade associations, plant manager and environmental manager forums are good channels of communications.

5. The high level planning process for the transition to EIPs must be supported by a strong bottom up planning process -- a dialogue between top down and bottom up.

We saw good evidence that teams for some of the pilot projects have made excellent progress in beginning their planning, with participation by the park management and a number of companies involved. To remain on the first list of candidates, all of the pilot project teams need to have this sort of participation. Academic researchers may provide valuable assistance, but the lead in planning needs to be the from the people responsible for implementation. There need to be good channels of communication between the industrial park level of planning and the KNCPC and other agencies collaborating in this initiative.

6. An evolving long-term vision of the whole system is required to make effective decisions about the specific strategies used in each phase of the transition.

None of the pilot projects have developed an adequate long-term vision of what it would mean for their parks to become EIPs. Most have started with the idea of one company using another’s by-products, which is more or less feasible, depending on the mix of companies at a site. This is one of many strategies but it is not a full vision.


7. An EIP is much more than an exchange of by-products among companies.

By-product exchange among companies is one strategy in the whole system of the EIP. It needs to be linked to development of a strong resource recovery industrial system, in-plant application of Cleaner Production, and other strategies for the transition to EIP. Only this whole system will optimize utilization of resources.

Achieving exchanges is determined by business factors, not just technical feasibility. The potential customer for a by-product must be sure that the quality and quantity of supply will consistently meet his standards and that using the by-product will not risk liabilities.

8. Strong support to the growth of the environmental technology and services cluster will provide Korean industrial parks with many of the solutions they require.

The City of Ulsan has incorporated promotion of environmental business as a component of eco-industrial development planning. In this way a business cluster will support environmental excellence to EIP firms by delivering advanced environmental technologies and services. At the same time, it will be another growth sector as well as purchasing or leasing surplus land in EIPs. This strength helps enable the central government to achieve its environmental goals for business while improving the economy. 

9. Green chemistry is an important field for petrochemical EIPs as well as customers using chemicals.

The petrochemical-based parks should promote adoption of green chemistry strategies for product and process design in their companies. This field is also important for companies that are large users of chemicals. This is one of the areas of interest of the KNCPC. See the petrochemical EIP section of chapter 6 of the EIP Handbook, for a summary of green chemistry approaches and web links. 

Policy context

10. Resource-based policy

Korean national government policies need to acknowledge the growing global and regional limits on resource flows in a way to encourage optimization of resource use in all sectors. Setting a high goal for the economy’s efficiency/productivity will improve competitiveness of Korean industry. (National leadership of China’s Circular Economy initiative has set a goal of multiplying efficiency of resource use by a factor of ten.)

Such policies should link environmental and economic planning, with participation by agencies in both areas.
The government, in team with business associations, should set resource optimization targets for all sectors of the economy, not just industry.

11. Policy in support of the eco-industrial park initiative should take an integrated view of all aspects of Cleaner Production as complementary to eco-industrial strategies.

The Korean National Cleaner Production Center deals with all aspects of the production cycle, including process design for source reduction, product design for efficient production and consumption, supply chain management, environmental management systems, and remanufacturing. Support for the Center in delivering programs and building a strong network of CP consultants is vital to achieving the resource optimization policy recommended in 10. This work is highly complementary to the resource recovery aspect of eco-industrial development.  

12. National policy should support excellent management of the eco-industrial park initiative and individual industrial parks

The organizational success factors described above have primary importance, with the technology factors usually secondary. Without appropriate organizational management, the most promising technological solutions have tended to fail throughout the history of CP, pollution prevention, and eco-industrial development.

Therefore, policy should support adequate staffing, capacity development, management reward systems, and other measures important to the agencies involved and in the industrial parks themselves. 

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