East Meets West Midlands' Company To Sign Shared Sustainability Vision
A delegation from the world's largest industrial park travelled to the West Midlands' home of the National Industrial Symbiosis Programme (NISP) last week to sign a deal that hopes to see the development of an industrial symbiosis programme in China.
Seven leading officials from the Tianjin Economic-Technological Development Area (TEDA) travelled to Birmingham, their only stop in the UK, to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with International Synergies Limited with the shared goal of establishing an industrial symbiosis network in the area.
TEDA was established in 1984 with the approval of the State Council of the People's Republic of China and is one of the first state-class economic-technological development areas in China. Covering 33 square kilometers, the area is just over 2 and a half hours drive from Beijing and 60 kilometers to the east of Tianjin, adjacent to the Tanggu District of the city.
International Synergies recently completed a 2 year pilot circular economy scheme in the Yunnan district of South West China, commissioned by DEFRA as part of its Sustainable Development Dialogue (SDD) programme.
The project saw experts from the company's flagship project, NISP, work with Yunnan's local government and industry to improve its sustainable consumption and production (SCP) practices by developing the infrastructure of an industrial symbiosis programme.
TEDA officials attended the end of project event in Beijing last November and have since been in discussions with International Synergies as to how the industrial symbiosis approach can be incorporated into TEDA's development plans to secure its status as an eco-friendly city and main economic centre in North China.
"TEDA's goal is to become one of the most sustainable industrial areas in the world," explains Mr Zhang Jun, Vice President of TEDA Administrative Commission.
"In order to strengthen the industrial sustainability in TEDA, the TEDA administrative commission is pleased to establish a close co-operative relationship with International Synergies with the aim of implementing eco-industrial development in the area and agree to exchange information with the purpose of sharing perspectives and experiences."
The two organisations are currently awaiting the outcome of a joint bid presented to the European Commission as part of its Switch Asia programme, which funds projects to improve SCP and directly contributes to sustainable growth and the fight against poverty.
Lynne Jones, MP for Birmingham, Selly Oak, welcomed the TEDA delegation to the country. She said: "Tackling climate change is the most important national and international political issue of our time.
"Through NISP we have shown that industrial symbiosis is an effective means of reducing the carbon footprint of industrial development and demonstrated that economic growth can be decoupled from environmental degradation. It is extremely exciting that a scheme pioneered in Birmingham could soon be helping to shape the future of the World's largest industrial park."
NISP began as a pilot regional scheme in the West Midlands in 2003, funded by Advantage West Midlands and the Veolia Environmental Trust (then Onyx Environmental Trust). NISP facilitated synergies have boosted the regional economy by £71 million over the last three and a half years (£63 million new sales generated and £7.9 million cost savings achieved) and brought in £15 million in private investment. It has also reduced the region's commercial carbon footprint by 956,000 tonnes and diverted more than 578,000 tonnes of business waste from landfill.
Gareth Stanley, UK Trade and Investment International Trade Advisor in Environmental Technologies for the West Midlands' region, said: "The collaboration between International Synergies and TEDA is extremely exciting.
"It not only demonstrates a transfer of knowledge from the UK to China, but also has the potential to develop key export opportunities for West Midlands' companies to gain a foothold in China, the second largest economy in the world."
Peter Laybourn, Chairman of International Synergies and NISP Programme Director, said: "The existence of a growing number of non-UK industrial symbiosis programmes demonstrates just how transferable the approach is across different countries in reducing the environmental impacts of business in both developed and developing economies whilst creating business opportunities and consequently jobs and new business start ups.
"Working with TEDA will provide us with an insight into the workings of an established and accomplished industrial area. We are very much looking forward to a long term collaborative partnership with TEDA and are convinced of the mutual benefit."