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Eco-industrial parks among the gateways for picking up industrial activity

To help alleviate the economic hardship being experienced in South Africa, one initiative government has started driving is transitioning industrial parks into eco-industrial parks, National Cleaner Production Centre South Africa (NCPC-SA) project manager Henry Nuwarinda has said.

Eco-industrial parks foster sustainable industrial growth and sustainable development goals, promoting the collaboration of companies, as well as enhancing competitiveness through the reduction of costs for businesses. 

Nuwarinda noted during a session of the Manufacturing Indaba on December 10 that the eco-industrial park programme was placing an emphasis on public-private partnership (PPP) to realise growth opportunities.

Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (DTIC) regional industrial development director Bernd Oellermann said the South African government had increasingly looked at how it could foster PPPs, including through establishing industrial parks.

This follows the international trend whereby industries and governments are moving away from the traditional industrial areas around cities, which involve the labour force travelling large distances to work, to more decentralised zones, closer to where labour forces reside.

Industrial parks are meant to help ease the setup of businesses and ensure their sustainability, through shared services and shared infrastructure and assistance with services around intellectual property registration and marketing.

Oellermann said industrial parks were a key element of South Africa’s socioeconomic improvement, since it helps deal with issues that are far too complex for any one stakeholder to solve.

United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (Unido) chief technical adviser Klaus Tyrkko agreed, explaining that Unido had seen that industrial parks were a good way of advancing industrialisation and manufacturing across the world.

He stated that industrial parks, and particularly eco-industrial parks, had proven to attract companies that created employment and provided secure places of work, and grew into organisms in themselves.

Tyrkko added that Unido had observed that parks running through PPPs tended to fare better in terms of sustainable operations, management and to actually achieve the goals set out at the beginning.

NCPC-SA and the DTIC, in partnership with Unido on December 7 launched the Global Eco-Industrial Parks Programme (Geipp).

South Africa had been one of seven countries selected to participate in this programme, which is funded by the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs and implemented internationally by Unido.

The programme will be implemented in South Africa by NCPC-SA, itself a programme of the DTIC, and hosted by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research.

The Geipp, running alongside DTIC’s Industrial Parks Revitalisation Programme, aims to demonstrate the viability and benefits of “greening” industrial parks by improving resource productivity and economic, environmental and social performances of businesses, thereby contributing to inclusive and sustainable industrial development.

The key components of an eco-industrial park are resource efficiency and cleaner production, progressive park management, industrial and infrastructure synergies, healthy and integrated workforces and optimisation related to spatial planning and zoning.