Transformation of Burnt Mills Eco-Industrial Park through Industrial Symbiosis
Partners: International Synergies, Basildon Borough Council and Essex County Council
In its vision document, “Creating Opportunity”, Basildon Borough Council highlighted that sustainable regeneration was a strategic priority. In line with this, the Council earmarked Burnt Mills Industrial Estate (the Estate) for its potential to be transformed into an Eco-Industrial Park (where businesses cooperate with each other to reduce waste and pollution, and share or reuse resources including materials, water, energy and infrastructure).
To assess the Estate’s feasibility for converting to Eco-Industrial Park principles, Basildon Borough Council and its partner, Essex County Council, called on the expertise of International Synergies to apply its proven methodology, Regional Economic Development through Intelligence Based Industrial Symbiosis (RED IBIS), to develop a picture of the area’s resource strengths and material supply risks/opportunities.
Most Eco-Industrial Parks developed from concept stage are specifically designed to attract new commercial partners having assets and resources with which others can benefit. As location decision making is not often driven by these factors, the approach has had limited success. Applying eco-industrial principles to the development of an existing industrial park is a new approach; identifying opportunities to support the existing businesses on the park by improving resource and energy efficiency, and further attracting investment based on opportunities identified for redirecting and reusing underused and waste resource streams.
Understanding resource stream flows, availability, risks and infrastructure provides essential information to inform strategic economic development decisions and investment opportunities that complement existing assets and resources and deliver maximum value to an area.
Building on the RED IBIS approach first applied in Birmingham’s Tyseley Environmental Enterprise Zone, International Synergies used resource data derived from its own projects, supplemented with regional data from Basildon Borough Council and the Environment Agency, to develop a plan that identified where immediate opportunities existed for the recovery of valuable materials and the potential for generating low carbon energy, creating jobs and promoting green business growth. The mapping process also accounted for existing infrastructure, including transport links, in order to assess how this could be used most effectively to serve the growing needs of the area.
The study established that the industrial demographic and resource availability at the Estate made it a suitable area for transformation using Eco-Industrial Park principles. International Synergies highlighted many opportunities to support immediate, medium and long-term business growth, diversification objectives and environmental targets.
In the short term, the study identified immediate opportunities to develop local markets for secondary materials so existing materials are kept in productive use for as long as possible. The report highlighted a priority list of key materials available for reuse including wood, secondary aggregate materials, plastics, and waste electronics and electrical equipment (WEEE).
Once immediate resource synergy partnerships have been developed, the study highlighted that the Estate could progress to developing investment opportunities for the area, including attracting gasification or pyrolysis plants as a means to generate energy from waste streams available across the site.
Longer term, the study identified opportunities for the Estate to build a Sustainable Resource Recovery Hub and become self-sufficient in terms of its energy and utility provision.
The study projected that, based on a five-year implementation plan, the following economic and environmental benefits could be achieved:
- £2.2Million of cost savings for Burnt Mills businesses
- £142 Million of new private investment
- 187 new jobs
- 381,200 tonnes of CO2 reduction
- 131,700 tonnes of landfill diversion