In a developing country, such as Jordan, with a relatively emerging economy and limited natural resources, the industrial sector expends more effort than developed countries and even more than developing countries that are rich in natural resources. In such a situation, industries should look into finding solutions to sustain their existence, which is not confined to keeping their production lines running and making profit, but it goes beyond that, it goes to a whole way of thinking a way that integrates the surrounding environment and that confirms on the industrial sector responsibility toward the environment, the home of its raw material.
Basically, this is what can be called as Industrial Sustainability.
“Sustainable industrial development means doing more with less – increasing eco-efficiency, that is, decreasing the level of pollution and at the same time the amount of energy, material and other inputs required to produce a given product or service.
A concept that can be very important to attaining Industrial Sustainability is Industrial Symbiosis which offers a very feasible solution to a tight economic status. Especially that the payback that emerges from applying such a concept in the right conditions and circumstances exist makes is tempting.
The benefits range from reducing the amount of waste released to the environment; reducing the cost of waste disposal and the cost of purchasing raw materials to even achieving better socio-economic status by generating new income source and employment opportunities.
Marian Chertow, a pioneer in Industrial Symbiosis, has acknowledged that “Industrial symbiosis engages traditionally separate industries in a collective approach to competitive advantage involving physical exchange of materials, energy, water, and/or by products. The keys to industrial symbiosis are collaboration and the synergistic possibilities offered by geographic proximity”
Many industrial clusters over the developed countries has merged the Industrial Symbiosis concept with their environmental management systems, some saw failure and the other witnessed great success and benefits. Together failure and success emerged lessons learned.
One of the very successful experiences developed and still existing is Kalundborg, Denmark which has been described as an evolutionary process in which a number of independent by-products exchanges have gradually evolved into a complex web of symbiotic interactions, many studies show that this Industrial Symbiosis network has contributed significantly in reducing environmental impacts and increasing economic benefits over the years.
During my research journey in 2011 to investigate Industrial Symbioses existence or potential opportunities in Jordan, in which Zarqa Free Zone was taken as a study sample, it was concluded that there are some forms of waste exchange in the zone but it still did not reach the minimum criteria of Industrial Symbiosis. The potential and willingness from industries do exist to form an Industrial Symbiosis network especially that it could generate additional income to their business.
Many challenges were identified that could hold back the Zarqa Free Zone from adopting Industrial Symbiosis in its environmental management, such as the lack of adequate database that list the important data for evaluating any exchange such as the type and quantity of waste released from each industry. The current fluctuating financial situation is another obstacle that could be distracting industries from looking into best environmental practices.
All in all, the challenges found could be solved by offering economical incentives and promoting successful pilot projects. In Jordan, national and political schemes have the opportunity to adapt, integrate and encourage such a concept.