Việt Nam has had strong economic growth in recent years, in which the production and processing sector has contributed. The Government has opened industrial parks (IPs) with essential infrastructure such as utilities, transportation and waste treatment zones to create new industrial sectors. As of September 2020, Việt Nam has 369 IPs with a total area of 113.3 thousand hectares, attracting about 10,055 foreign investment projects with a total registered investment capital of nearly 200 billion USD and about 9,845 domestic investment projects with a total registered capital of 2.34 million billion VND, creating jobs for 3.83 million direct workers. In 2019, IPs generated a total revenue of 235 billion USD with an export value of approximately 142 billion USD, equivalent to 59% of the total national export turnover and created approximately 3.85 million direct workers.
However, the process of industrialization and development of IPs at a fast pace is posing challenges in terms of environment (water, soil, air, noise), resource use (energy, water and raw materials). Increasing resource efficiency and cleaner production in Việt Nam through IPs is necessary. However, the implementation of waste and gas emission reduction at the enterprise scale and recycling and reuse of by-products among enterprises is always slower than the expansion and development of IPs. With many IPs, the transformation into eco-industrial parks in Việt Nam is necessary to realize economic, environmental and social efficiency at the IP scale.
In the world, the eco-industrial park model towards sustainable development has been implemented since the 1990s and achieved many positive results. In Denmark, Kalundborg Eco-Industrial Park is typical in the development of a closed eco-industrial park with 20 industrial symbiosis networks and local urban systems. Symbiosis models all start from independent product exchanges that gradually evolve into a complex network of symbiosis interactions. An important factor for success is the good cooperation and communication connection among members of the IP, the mutual trust and support among enterprises in the IP. The model of eco-industrial park in Kalundborg implemented from 1982 to 1997 has saved 19,000 tons of oil, 30,000 tons of coal, 600,000m3 of water and 130,000 tons of CO2. In 2001, enterprises in the IP saved 160 million USD by joining the symbiosis network.
In Việt Nam, the Project “Implementation of eco-industrial park initiative for sustainable industrial zones” (Project) implemented by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI) in 2015 - 2019 has aimed to pilot the transformation of 4 IPs (Khánh Phú IP, Gián Khẩu IP in Ninh Bình; Hòa Khánh IP in Đà Nẵng and Trà Nóc 1, 2 IPs in Cần Thơ) into an eco-industrial park model. One of the main activities of the Project is to support enterprises in IPs to raise awareness and implement solutions for resource efficiency and cleaner production, research and support the implementation of industrial symbiosis networks among enterprises to contribute to popularizing cleaner and low-carbon production methods, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, water pollutants and improving water use efficiency, reuse of wastes in the pilot transformation IPs.
Plastic waste not only flooded in seas, but also in remote and mountainous areas
Trà Nóc 1, 2 IPs are located in Ô Môn and Bình Thủy Districts, Cần Thơ City. Trà Nóc IP includes 2 IPs, Trà Nóc 1 (established in 1995) and Trà Nóc 2 (established in 1998) invested by Cần Thơ IPs Infrastructure Construction Joint Stock Company, these are the first two IPs of the Mekong Delta region. Currently, the IP is 100% occupied with a total of 190 projects of 107 enterprises. The total area of industrial land and leased land is 213.41ha, registered capital is 1,143,437 million USD, implemented capital is 741,568 million USD, accounting for 64.85% of registered capital. Trà Nóc 1, 2 IPs are multi-sector IPs, which focus on seafood processing, garment, fertilizer, chemical and animal feed sectors.
With the total annual emissions of 49,657.6 tons including many types of wastes having potential for reuse such as wastes from seafood processing (shrimp, fish), paper (food containers, plastic bags, cartons...), rice husk ash, organic wastes (food, leftover vegetables) but so far the reuse of wastes is mostly spontaneous. With the total average amount of wastewater generated in the IP is 9,035m3/day, two wastewater treatment plants were built in turn with daily capacity of 12,000 m3, but the results of surface water monitoring in Trà Nóc 1&2 IPs still show signs of organic pollution. Because these IPs are located close to residential areas, the problem of surface water pollution has partly affected the lives of people living around these areas. Most enterprises have not implemented resource efficiency and cleaner production solutions to save production costs and reduce resource usage, emissions and wastes. These characteristics have led to many environmental disadvantages, this is also one of the reasons for IPs to be selected to participate in the pilot model of transforming from the conventional IP model into the eco-industrial park model.
Implement resource efficient and cleaner production (RECP) solutions
These are solutions that continuously apply an integrated environmental prevention strategy to manufacturing processes, products and services to increase efficiency and reduce risks to people and the environment. Also, it is one of the criteria to be recognized as an eco-industrial park specified in the Government’s Decree No. 82/2018/NĐ-CP dated 22nd May 2018.
To support the transformation into an eco-industrial park model, the Project has supported 32 enterprises in Trà Nóc 1,2 IPs to participate in the RECP Assessment Program. Through this Program, enterprises have been trained on RECP implementation methods, supported in enterprise assessment to discover RECP solutions. Through the assessment at enterprises, the Project has guided and helped enterprises implement over 350 cleaner production solutions. Solutions focus on the following groups:
(1) Good housekeeping: Is the simplest in cleaner production solutions, these are investment-free solutions that can be implemented immediately after identification.
(2) Better process control: Is to ensure optimal process conditions for resource consumption, production and waste generation. Process parameters such as temperature, time, pressure, pH, production speed... must be continuously monitored and maintained at the optimum level possible.
(3) Input substitution: Is a solution to replace existing materials with more environmentally friendly materials, bringing higher efficiency. There is usually a direct relationship with the quantity and quality of the product.
(4) Equipment modification: Is to improve existing equipment to reduce wasted materials. The solution includes regulating the speed of the motor, optimizing the size of the tank, insulating hot and cold surfaces, or improving the design of a critical part of the equipment.
(5) Technology change: Is to use a new process, old equipment will be replaced to use modern and more efficient equipment. This is a solution that requires a large investment, so enterprises often consider carefully before deciding to invest. However, due to the large savings and high-quality improvement when changing technology, the profit is quite large and the return on investment is in a very short time.
(6) On-site recovery/reuse: Is a solution to collect and reuse "wastes" in the same or another part of the production process.
For enterprises participating in the Project, the implementation of RECP solutions has saved enterprises nearly 47 billion VND/year and helped reduce electricity consumption (13,255,095 kWh); water (365,326m3/year); chemicals and wastes (666 tons/year); reduce 12 Kt CO2eq/year. Small and medium enterprises have also mobilized 57 billion VND to implement RECP solutions.
Implement industrial symbiosis
Industrial symbiosis in an IP is a cooperative activity among enterprises in the same IP or with enterprises in other IPs in order to optimize the use of inputs such as raw materials, water, energy, wastes, scraps ... in the process of production and business. Through cooperation, enterprises form a network to exchange for production, share infrastructure and services for production, improve technological processes and business performance. Implementing industrial symbiosis is a criterion to be recognized as an eco-industrial park specified in the Government’s Decree No. 82/2018/NĐ-CP dated 22 May 2018.
In order to support the transformation into eco-industrial parks, the Project has researched and discovered 18 symbiosis solutions among enterprises, of which 7 solutions were studied for economic and technical feasibility to propose to enterprises for implementation. Solutions focus on the following symbiosis groups: (i) Reuse of wastewater after treatment: make use of wastewater in fire prevention and fighting or recover wastewater for reuse in IPs; (ii) Service sharing: share capacity building training services for workers at enterprises or provide boiler operation services; (iii) Infrastructure sharing: share cold storages among companies with the same needs; (iv) Reuse of wastes: reuse iron and steel, scrap paper; (v) Energy sharing: cooperate in sharing the use of boilers among companies. The proposed model of symbiosis connections among companies in Trà Nóc IP is presented in Diagram 1.
Although further steps are still to be taken to implement the proposed symbiosis networks, the initial results of the transformation into eco-industrial park in Trà Nóc 1, 2 IPs have brought socio-economic and environmental benefits, and mobilized great resources from the private economic sector. These results also show the potential of making the transformation into the eco-industrial park model of IPs in Việt Nam.
Some difficulties for the transformation into eco-industrial park model
First, awareness and skills to implement resource efficient and cleaner production solutions: Implementation of RECP solutions is an effective tool to support the development of eco- industrial parks and improve competitiveness of enterprises. However, most of the small and medium-sized enterprises in IPs in Việt Nam currently lack professional managers or technical staff in applying these solutions. Awareness of the need to continuously apply RECP solutions in the production process also requires to be further raised by managers of enterprises. Some enterprises are not willing to share information and data on raw materials, energy, chemicals, water consumption and wastes generated from the production process. These are information and data needed to determine the basis for the implementation of the RECP. Besides, the mindset of being afraid of change is quite common in most enterprises. Therefore, it is necessary to raise awareness about the benefits of RECP in the development of eco-industry for managers and technical staff of enterprises.
Second, it is difficult in implementing industrial symbiosis: Implementing industrial symbiosis is one of the mandatory criteria to be recognized as an eco-industrial park. Therefore, increasing the reuse of wastes among enterprises should be encouraged. However, there is currently a lack of a comprehensive policy on waste management with specific regulations on the types of wastes that are allowed to be reused and specific guidelines for such reuse among enterprises in IPs. The Law on Environmental Protection in 2020, Article 142 stipulates to encourage the development of the circular economy in accordance with the country's socio-economic conditions. Therefore, it is necessary to continue to develop standards or technical guidelines to realize waste reuse solutions to support the implementation of industrial symbiosis solutions.
Third, lack of financial resources to support enterprises in technological innovation: During the project implementation, financial barriers are the biggest difficulties in the transformation into eco-industrial parks. The improvement of manufacturing processes in many enterprises through the implementation of RECP solutions and small investments have provided great profit opportunities. However, there are still some enterprises that are unable to do so because the required investments are beyond their ability. On the other hand, investments that generate environmental benefits are often not financially attractive to small and medium-sized enterprises. The support of concessional loans for small and medium-sized enterprises is essential for achieving the goals of creating environmental benefits and supporting the transformation into eco-industrial parks. Currently there are not many such sources of credit. Also, a credit mechanism to make incentives to implement industrial symbiosis solutions is also essential. Therefore, it is necessary to develop effective financial mechanisms to attract credit sources for small and medium-sized enterprises to implement cleaner production and industrial symbiosis solutions.
Fourth, human resources to apply new technologies: Technological innovation and application of new technologies continue to be key in the transformation into eco-industrial parks. As the transformation takes place and higher goals are set, an investment in human resources is required to be able to implement and apply modern technologies. It is therefore necessary to train a skilled workforce to do this.
Vương Thị Minh Hiếu
Department of Economic Zones Management, Ministry of Planning and Investment
Nguyễn Trâm Anh
Industrial Resource Efficiency Division,
United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO)
(Source: Vietnam Environment Administration Magazine, English Edition II - 2021)
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