Jinan is the largest and capital city in Shandong province, China. The history and economy of Jinan is closely linked to its iron and steel corporation, one of the most important industries in the area and in the whole Country. Apart from the iron and steel corporation, Jinan also hosts several chemical companies and cement producers. The local government has supported the iron and steel corporation over the years in order to allow the creation of a symbiotic district centred on this business. After 2005, the project has gained national visibility and has started to include exchanges with the local community.
The main challenge that led the iron and steel corporation to start creating symbiotic exchanges was the need to find an alternative, profitable solution to reuse the huge amount of excess energy and materials from the production process. In addition, the challenge that led the government to support the symbiotic district development is the need of Jinan municipality to find a way to respond to environmental issues created by the presence of heavy industries.
The discovery process was led by the iron and steel corporation, which carried on one-to-one negotiations with companies interested in reusing or supplying alternative raw materials. The local government provided support to close additional materials’ loops and also to identify and finance suitable technological solutions allowing reusing municipal waste within the industrial district (e.g. waste plastic incineration facilities).
The main precondition that allowed the implementation of symbiotic exchanges was the fact that the main company in the district was an iron/steel producer. Iron and steel industry has in fact high potential in creating symbiotic exchanges due to the considerable amount of excess energy and material usually produced during the production process. In addition, the support and pressure from both the national and local government in the light of Chinese policy to incentive circular economy implementation activities in resource dependent cities contributed to the growth of the symbiotic district.
Source: Dong, L., Gu, F., Fujita T., Hayashi, Y., Gao, J., 2014. “Uncovering opportunity of low-carbon city promotion with industrial system innovation: Case study on industrial symbiosis projects in China”. Energy Policy 65:388-397.
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