You are here

Lyon Metropole regenerates brownsites into fertile ground

Type of organisation or company:

Country: 
France
City: 
Lyon

Language for original content:

Sector:

Scope:

Ongoing: 
No

Type of funding:

Grand Lyon - Laureline Bourit

Contact details

EUROCITIES - Joana Cruz

Contact details

Description: 

Approach

One example of Lyon Métropole’s work on the circular economy is the innovative solutions the city has implemented to sustainably develop its ‘Chemistry Valley’. Located in the south of Lyon, the Chemistry Valley is a strategic territory for the region whose economic past is closely linked to the chemical industry - synthetic chemistry, speciality chemistry, petrochemicals and refining - involving global players such as Arkema, Bluestar Silicones, ENGIE, IFP Energies Nouvelles, Solvay and Total. The Chemistry Valley is now developing around a diversified and integrated multi-site activity in the fields of chemistry, energy and the environment.

Due to plant relocations in this sector and to the reinforcement of risk regulation, there is significant unoccupied industrial space available in the Chemistry Valley. In 2014, through an initiative called ‘Appel des 30’, Lyon Métropole launched a public-private partnership, with 30 companies including building owners, research and development centres, regulatory and technical experts, as well as financial partners to spark development in the valley. As part of this initiative, the city launched a call for projects in 2014, and then in 2016, inviting innovative industrial project developers in the chemical, energy and environmental sectors to develop activities in the unused property in the valley.

In 2016, the second edition of the call focused on six pillars for major development, including one on ‘productive landscape’. This pillar aims to test different processes to clean up contaminated soil, produce biomass and create fertile ground. Transforming infertile and contaminated soil considered as waste into a valuable product to develop green cities is part of Lyon Métropole’s circular economy strategy.

Challenges

Developing a productive landscape in an industrial area was well received by surrounding cities. A first challenge though was to connect sectors that do not typically work together: landscaping contaminated soil experts and the construction sector.

A bigger challenge was to find a business model, considering that fertile
ground from agricultural land only cost €25 per cubic metre in Lyon, whereas re-fertilised ground is more expensive. By comparison, fertile agricultural land in the German Ruhr area costs €120 euros per cubic metre. One of the solutions Lyon Métropole considered to tackle this issue is to introduce a clause on re-fertilised soil in its public procurement to increase the sale of these types of soil. Moreover, Lyon Métropole wants to anticipate the growing scarcity of fertile soil by testing innovative solutions in the Chemistry Valley.

One example of Lyon Métropole’s work on the circular economy is the innovative solutions the city has implemented to sustainably develop its ‘Chemistry Valley’. Located in the south of Lyon, the Chemistry Valley is a strategic territory for the region whose economic past is closely linked to the chemical industry - synthetic chemistry, speciality chemistry, petrochemicals and refining - involving global players such as Arkema, Bluestar Silicones, ENGIE, IFP Energies Nouvelles, Solvay and Total. The Chemistry Valley is now developing around a diversified and integrated multi-site activity in the fields of chemistry, energy and the environment.

Due to plant relocations in this sector and to the reinforcement of risk regulation, there is significant unoccupied industrial space available in the Chemistry Valley. In 2014, through an initiative called ‘Appel des 30’, Lyon Métropole launched a public-private partnership, with 30 companies including building owners, research and development centres, regulatory and technical experts, as well as financial partners to spark development in the valley. As part of this initiative,
the city launched a call for projects in 2014, and then in 2016, inviting innovative industrial project developers in the chemical, energy and environmental sectors to develop activities in the unused property in the valley.

In 2016, the second edition of the call focused on six pillars for major development, including one on ‘productive landscape’. This pillar aims to test different processes to clean up contaminated soil, produce biomass and create fertile ground. Transforming infertile and contaminated soil considered as waste into a valuable product to develop green cities is part of Lyon Métropole’s circular economy strategy.

Main results: 

 

Impact

The 2016 call received numerous applications to experiment with ‘productive landscapes’. Participants showed a lot of interest towards this issue and in the transformation of the valley to circular activities. In April 2017, Lyon Métropole and its partners announced 10 winners of the ‘Appel des 30’.

Three of these winners have projects focusing on:

  • treatment and regeneration of soil on industrial property
  • clean-up of soil using techniques associated with the area of phytoremediation
  • manufacture of living soil, fertilisation of inert soil
  • tecovery, storage, transformation and utilisation of fertile land
  • biomass cultivation

These innovative and circular solutions developed in the valley will help tackle the growing scarcity challenge of fertile lands, while also generating value. Provided these pilot projects are successful, the methodology could then be scaled to bigger projects, thereby increasing the amount of fertile land available.

By gathering public and private actors and by considering the Chemistry Valley as an evolving resource with a flexible production process, Lyon Métropole turned the challenges of unused and polluted land, scarcity of fertile soil and
construction waste into a new opportunity. The productive landscape gives Chemistry Valley its status as a test site and makes it a showcase for change in the territory.

Lessons

In the framework of the ‘Appel des 30’, Lyon Métropole did not offer any subsidies to the winners. Instead, it allows them to use the property to demonstrate their processes. While the Métropole did not own much of the property, Lyon played a role in gathering partners, and private building owners to attract innovative projects.

The approach developed through the ‘Appel des 30’ demonstrated that:

  • cities should not be afraid to think beyond their competences (e.g. Lyon Métropole offered plots that they did not own with the agreement of the owners for each project
  • public-private partnerships allow co­construction, reaching goals that might not otherwise be possible for the city to achieve alone