The Strasbourg port area has more than 320 established companies with about 10,000 jobs; it is the leading area of economic activity in Alsace. In September 2013, the Eurométropole of Strasbourg initiated an industrial and territorial ecology (EIT) approach in the port as part of its economic and sustainable development action along with the Port of Strasbourg, ADEME, the Grand Est Region and the Port Users Group (GUP).
There are 22 companies currently aiming to optimise the consumption of resources and the production of industrial waste, but this is expected to grow to 26 in 2018 and 30 in 2019. Collectively these companies employ more than 3,000 people and have more than €3 billion in cumulative turnover. The goal of the approach is to highlight industrial synergies between the different companies in the harbour area, who would like to be part of the project. Several industrial synergies have been put in place through the framework, and some of them are about circular economy such as ones on purchasing, wood waste, electricity, pallets, paper and cardboard and even wash stations.
Overall , the EIT approach seeks to:
- reinforce the competitiveness of the companies
- optimise resources management
- develop links between the companies working in this area
- achieve energy efficiency
The main challenge was to convince the biggest industries of the value of the project and the approach so that they agreed to dedicate time and communicate their technical data, which is often confidential. To achieve this, it is essential to quickly demonstrate to companies the economic potential, as well as the project’s environmental benefits.
Another challenge is to maintain companies’ interest over time, year after year. Only creating successful synergies can achieve this.
Lastly, involving companies with decision-making centres outside of the territory was another challenging aspect of implementing this approach.
Main activity field:
The seven synergies that are now being successfully implemented have contributed to:
- an annual reduction of 3,267 tons of carbon-dioxide GHG emissions in the sector of wood waste
- 100% responsible purchases for office supplies, thanks to bundled purchasing
- the valorisation of paper: more than 3,500 tons of locally recovered cellulosic waste with an estimated savings of €16,000 per year
- over 41,000 litres of water and €4,700 saved per year thanks to the synergy of wash stations: several companies are equipped with a fleet of heavy vehicles whose maintenance and washing are carried out through providers located outside the port area.
In 2015, a member company in the process undertook work to renovate its maintenance workshops and to equip itself with a new ecological washing station. It recycles at least 75% of the water used and collects rainwater through the roof of the workshop. Today two companies benefit from these facilities.
The advice that can be drawn from this experience is undoubtedly always to make sure that businesses remain at the centre of the system since they are the real actors for its success. It is important to speak their language and integrate their predominantly economic issues without underestimating the ethical commitment that some leaders may hold, both in the beginning and throughout the process.
Companies must also be rapidly integrated into the governance of the project and its financing in a spirit of public-private partnership. Moreover, unlike other examples of EIT, there is no leading company in the approach adopted in the port of Strasbourg. This allows the initiative to multiply the synergies and to mobilise different actors.