Resource Metabolism in Regional and Industrial Ecosystems

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Resource metabolism, which refers to the flow, consumption, and transformation of natural material resources into products and wastes, has been rarely studied in the context of regional and industrial ecosystems. Moreover, the existing literature indicates that regional and industrial ecosystems are not distinctive from an industrial ecology perspective and that industrial ecology scholarship is yet to ingress most of the rapidly industrializing economies such as those in South Asia including Pakistan, Bangladesh, and India. These three countries alone represent a 22.6% share in the world population with a meager 3.8% share in the global economy. This is important as developing South Asian countries – a representative regional ecosystem – are implementing rapid economic growth policies at the expense of higher resource intensity. At the same time, Eco-Industrial Parks (EIPs) – a manifestation of industrial ecosystems – are becoming drivers of technologically advanced industrial production in many developed economies around the world. Therefore, bridging the resource efficiency gap between regional and industrial ecosystems requires an improved understanding of regional and industrial ecosystems and their distinct resource metabolism. This knowledge becomes crucial as global resource transition is taking place, and industrialized countries are outsourcing resource-intensive production to developing countries. Narrowing this gap could help industrializing economies to design a future transition to low-carbon economic development and higher resource efficiency.

Concerning regional ecosystems, the dissertation applies economy-wide material flow accounting in Chapter 2 and conducts a macro-policy analysis. The results show that with rising per capita income, the three largest South Asian economies (Pakistan, Bangladesh, and India) are witnessing a fast expansion of urban infrastructure, agricultural production, transportation, and small-to-medium scale manufacturing industries. This economic expansion has triggered rapid growth in the consumption of fossil fuels, agricultural chemicals, construction minerals, and industrial materials – most of which are imported and could have implications for the regional resource supply chain. Moreover, these three countries consume relatively higher materials per unit of economic output (when compared with developed economies) due to their industry structure, narrow range of manufactured goods, and technological backwardness. As a way forward, developing countries could potentially improve resource efficiency through process innovation, sustainable design, sectoral restructuring, and promotion of resource-frugal and high-end production.

The dissertation then applies an efficiency evaluation method, using data envelopment analysis in Chapter 3, to analyze material and carbon efficiency in a typical developing economy i.e. Pakistan. The results illustrate that material intensity has reduced by 39.1% while CO2 intensity has risen by 21.5% in Pakistan during 1971-2015. Moreover, industrialization in developing countries improves material and carbon efficiency to a certain degree but these improvements are not equally distributed among countries connected through trade. Pakistan, when compared with its top 10 export countries, is found to be relatively more material and CO2 intensive due to resource-intensive production and low value-added exports. Our results show that the internalization of resource-intensive production has made developing economies relatively inefficient, thus, widening the resource efficiency gap between developing and developed countries. This trend is likely to continue unless resource management policies, environmental best practices such as leapfrog approaches, and technology transfer from developed economies are facilitated through regional cooperation and collective action.

Regarding industrial ecosystems, the dissertation develops an eco-efficiency assessment protocol, using data envelopment method and eco-efficiency indicators in Chapter 4, to analyze urban sustainability transition through Eco-Industrial Development (EID) in Ulsan, South Korea. The results show that improvements within industries (as opposed to industry structure change) could lead to significant eco-efficiency enhancement. Moreover, EID policy implementation offers promising solutions for energy recovery, waste valorization, resource conservation, and value creation. The results also reveal that resource efficiency enhancement at the industrial park level adds to the eco-efficiency improvement at the urban level. According to the results, EID promotion and industrial symbiosis through the Ulsan EIP program improved industrial waste and energy eco-efficiency by 35% and 21%, respectively, during 2000-2015. Resource efficiency in industrial ecosystems is found to improve through industrial symbiosis (e.g. excess energy networking, steam sharing, by-product exchange) and technological improvements (e.g. cleaner production technologies, resource conservation/recycling, and waste valorization).

The dissertation then analyses multiple industry-scale symbiosis projects in Ulsan, in Chapter 5, and studies the waste valorization approach in industrial ecosystems through urban-industrial symbiosis. According to our results, waste valorization is an attractive approach towards value creation from wastes in the form of bio-products (biochemicals, biofuels, and bioenergy) and revenues (avoided costs of waste disposal and selling bio-products). Our findings highlight that integrating industrial ecosystems with urban environmental infrastructures (e.g. municipal wastewater treatment plants and waste incinerators) is an effective strategy for valorizing wastes in industrial ecosystems. Nevertheless, innovative business strategies for urban-industrial symbiosis and governmental support for EID policy are also important. Moreover, by analyzing several large-scale symbiosis projects, we find that urban-industrial symbiosis enhances ecosystem efficiency, improves organic and industrial waste management, creates new business opportunities, and reduces the carbon footprint of a city.

Based on our results, the dissertation potentially contributes to environmental engineering/management and industrial ecology in several ways. First, by analyzing developing economies, the dissertation provides critical insights on materialization and carbonization in the developing world, thus extending the application of industrial ecology to regions rarely studied before. Second, the dissertation defines “regional ecosystems” for the very first time based on systems thinking and industrial ecology literature. Based on this definition, the boundaries of economy-wide material flow accounting could extend further into environmental policy, regional trade dynamics, and economic development. Third, the dissertation develops an eco-efficiency assessment protocol that could be utilized as a reliable assessment of eco-industrial development and the sustainability transition of industrial ecosystems. Fourth, with the help of several empirical industrial symbiosis projects, the dissertation presents the emergence and application of waste valorization in industrial ecosystems. Based on this, a critical understanding of technical, environmental, and policy considerations in urban-industrial symbiosis could be developed.
샤 이자르 후세인
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Environmental EngineeringIndustrial EcologyEnvironmental ManagementResource ManagementSustainable Development
Alternative Author(s)
SHAH Izhar Hussain
일반대학원 건설환경공학과
울산대학교 일반대학원 건설환경공학과
울산대학교 논문은 저작권에 의해 보호받습니다.
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Environmental Construction Engineering > 2. Theses (Ph.D)
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