The industrial cluster of Kwinana, in Australia, is one of the biggest and most diverse heavy industries concentration in the Country. The industrial cluster was founded in the 1950s and has expanded since then, including several facilities (power and cogeneration plants, air separation facilities, water treatment plants, etc.) and a wide range of different companies, such as alumina and nickel refineries, titanium dioxide producers, lime and cement kilns, oil refineries, pig iron plants and chemical producers.
The main challenge that led companies in the district to implement symbiotic exchanges was to pursue economic, as well as environmental and social benefits. The scarcity of some resources (water in particular) together with the need of preserving the nearby naturalistic area of Cockburn Sound have triggered most of the implemented symbiotic exchanges. In general, it is possible to say that resource efficiency has been for long time a strategic priority for companies in this area.
Most of the exchanges implemented in the region are spontaneous, but those dated before the intervention of the Centre for Sustainable Resource Processing (CSRP) are generally characterised by the use of well-established technologies and by not being too far from the core business of participating companies. Both the identification or implementation of new technologies and the high focus of companies on their core business are in fact barriers to the spontaneous creation of symbiotic exchanges in this case. In addition, one big barrier to exchanges implementation is represented by legislation, as approvals are required to use wastes as alternative fuels and raw materials.
As regards the first two barriers, the approach used by the companies, congregated into the Kwinana Industries Council (KIC), to overcome them was that to partner with external facilitators, such as the CSRP.
The discovery process in Kwinana started with the creation of the KIC by the core industries of the area. This association was founded to monitor environmental impacts of the district, with particular reference to air and water pollution. The KIC conducted a regional study, including an analysis of main materials and energy flows. Such study was partly based on a previous one, conduct almost ten years earlier. Based on findings of these two studies, the KIC was able to identify 55 new potential exchanges. Anyway, a complete inventory of potential opportunities completed with feasibility studies was created some years later, with the help of CSRP. CRSP also conducted some workshops with companies identified as potential donors/receivers of waste flows, and helped creating a collective strategy as regards resource efficiency for the whole district. Lately, KIC and CRSP have been partners also in the design of some additional common facilities for the companies in the area, that are supposed to create new exchanges opportunities, such as a new water treatment station and a new iron-making plant that will also produce a wide range of different by-products for the use of neighbouring companies.
Main precondition that allowed Industrial Symbiosis implementation are the diversity of companies in the district, the fact that supply chain integration had previously occurred among most of these companies, the pre-existence of an association including most companies within the district, the presence of a nearby naturalistic site that contributed raising awareness on environmental issues. In addition, the area is relatively isolated from other industrial districts.
Source: van Beers, D., Corder, G., Bossilkov, A., van Berkel, R., 2007, “Industrial Symbiosis in the Australian Minerals Industry. The Cases of Kwinana and Gladstone”. Journal of Industrial Ecology 11(1):55-72.
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