Positive externalities in the urban boundary

The case of industrial symbiosis

Authored by: Marian Chertow , Junming Zhu , Valerie Moye

The Routledge Handbook of Urbanization and Global Environmental Change

Print publication date:  December  2015
Online publication date:  December  2015

Print ISBN: 9780415732260
eBook ISBN: 9781315849256
Adobe ISBN: 9781317909323


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Urban expansion and resulting land cover change increase environmental stressors and competition for physical resources at the local, regional and global levels. Too often, though, attention is placed on the costs rather than the benefits of agglomeration, on negative externalities rather than positive ones. This chapter examines urban industrial activities by inquiring whether and how the materials, energy and water that enter and pass through a local economy can be harnessed and used more than once. Such investigations fall under the general research area of ‘industrial symbiosis,’ a sub-field embedded in the intellectual tradition of industrial ecology (Graedel and Allenby 2010). Industrial symbiosis engages traditionally separate industries in a collective approach to competitive advantage involving physical resource sharing of materials, energy, water and/or by-products where both proximity and collaboration play key roles (Chertow 2000). Investigating industrial symbiosis at the urban scale asks whether and how industrial operations can be examined collectively rather than as a series of isolated facilities to reveal previously unrealized benefits. Successfully reusing resources locally makes the revealed benefits available across the resource chain from local to global.

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