The Industrial Region as a Promising Unit for Eco-industrial Development

STERR, Thomas / OTT, Thomas (2004): The Industrial Region as a Promising Unit for Eco-industrial Development – Reflections, Practical Experience and the Establishment of Innovative Instruments to Support Industrial Ecology. Journal of Cleaner Production 12 (8-10), 947-965


Eco-industrial developments with a special focus on material cycles are usually concentrated on the level of the industrial estate. However, the results of completed and ongoing research projects in Germany’s Rhine-Neckar region indicate that larger territorial units may be more suitable for closing material loops and creating sustainable EIPs. In the first part of this article, the authors argue that the industrial region is indeed the most promising level for sustainable development, but that this larger size also presents some new obstacles and challenges: establishing the necessary trust and coordination between actors, homogenizing and collecting data to enable comparisons within and between firms, and minimizing the transaction costs ensuing in the search for appropriate partners by creating transparency. The second part then presents the authors’ practical solutions and IT-tools, which were developed to support a shift towards eco-industrial development on the basis of positive synergy effects for industrial actors. Through these ecologically oriented instruments important prerequisites are fulfilled in order to stimulate an evolutionary shift towards industrial ecology.


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