Park life

Project manager Roger Freeman explains the advantages that will be gained from building a resource recovery park in Hampshire

Are source recovery park is an industrial park where raw materials for one facility are the waste products of the factory next door, and the wastewater discharge, excess heat, steam and gas, wood and metal scraps, are all purchased by neighbouring manufacturers as valuable resources.

The idea is based on what takes place in Kalundborg, Denmark. Here, a 1,500mW coal-fired electrical plant has become the centre of manufacturing in the town. The power plant supplies process water and waste steam to a pharmaceutical company, fly ash to a cement company, water to a fish farm, and gypsum to a gypsum board factory.

A nearby oil refinery supplies excess sulphur to a sulphuric acid manufacturer and surplus gases, cooling water and process steam to the power station. The pharmaceutical plant supplies sludge for use as fertiliser for local farmers and hot water to heat 5,000 homes.

The symbiotic relationship has evolved through the years. The leaders of the companies involved all know each other and all need something the other companies have. It just made good business sense to be located near each other.

In Kalundborg, the park revolves around the power plant as an ‘anchor’ company. However, the same principles and commercial benefits can apply equally to a collection of large and small businesses, who actively look for ways to benefit each other in by-product exchanges, training, security, transportation and park management.

Throughout the world there are a number of RRPs operating with varying degrees of success. The eight partners that make up the Kalundborg park believe openness, communication and mutual trust between partners is key to their success. There is some evidence that too prescriptive a framework can be counter productive.

Embracing the concept

Until businesses embrace the concept of RRPs it is likely they will need to be pump-primed. The Taiwanese, for example, are investing US$185 million to set up four parks in an effort to attract international industries. In the UK, the urban mines concept of a sustainable growth park (SGP) has been pursued for a number of years and the first park, with a household recycling centre and materials recover facility as the anchor business, is the subject of a planning application.

Hampshire County Council, Portsmouth and Southampton City Councils, and Project Integra (the municipal waste partnership in Hampshire) are currently developing an integrated material resources strategy that is considering options for resource management and how they can best be delivered on the ground. An 18-month consultation process had led to a document, More For Less, being launched.

The RRP concept is being developed to complement this strategy, and consideration is being given to a number of sites. The council is in principle willing to make any suitable land it owns available on commercial terms to pump-prime the concept. Potential sites vary from 1.1 hectares to ten hectares and are located in rural and urban settings.

Potential RRPs could be a sole occupier, but equally could be a collection of symbiotic businesses, large and small, usually co-located and seeking enhanced environmental, economic, and social performance. The key criterion is that the businesses must be linked to reuse, recycling or recovery of wastes/resources, or other natural resources activities.

Moreover, it would be advantageous if the businesses were inter-related so the output from one organisation could, in part, be the feedstock for another. Components of this approach include green design of the infrastructure, construction using recycled materials, clean operations, pollution prevention, energy efficiency, inter-business partnering and by-product exchange.

Managing the site

In the event of sites being located in a rural setting, the developer would be expected to manage the park and its surroundings, and provide benefits to neighbouring communities. Provision of low-cost incubator units for start-up companies would be included.

Hampshire County Council wishes to develop RRPs through private sector financing and is in the process of identifying businesses interested in developing or occupying a RRP, possibly in partnership with the council or others. In this connection, it is unlikely the council would be in a position to provide any substantial finance. However, it may be possible for the site to attract preferential council rates.

It is too early to identify how management will ultimately work – RRPs could be managed by a single developer, which selects the tenants and sets up the infrastructure in line with the ethos of RRPs, or they could be a consortium of businesses, which have already recognised the benefits of co-locating to feed off each others’ by-products.

Interest in the first park has been identified and issues related to planning, financing will need to be addressed and resolved. There is a win for business and win for the environment in this concept and the future looks exciting.

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