Concrete Examples Three Case Studies

We would like to briefly present three case studies that highlight some of these issues (Erkman and Ramaswamy 2003). These case studies were carried out during the period 1996-1998. Although the data has not been updated, the core issues remain unchanged. The case studies of the Tirupur textile industries and the leather industry, illustrate how redefining the problem from a perspective of resource conservation and on the basis of resource flow data could point to totally new directions for strategy planning. The case study of the Damodar Valley region amplifies the importance of looking beyond formal industry to solve an environmental problem. It shows that even for globally critical programs such "climate change program," in developing countries, it is just not enough to estimate the emissions from the formal industrial sectors.

Case Study of Tirupur Town

A resource flow analysis (RFA) was undertaken for the town of Tirupur, a major textile cluster in the south of India, which could serve as an example of how a Regional Resource Flow Analysis could be effectively used. The RFA for Tirupur is shown in Figure 12.3.

Tirupur is a major center for the production of knitted cotton hosiery. The town is located in the State of Tamil Nadu and has a population of about 300,000. The 4000 small units in the town specialize in different aspects of the manufacturing process. The aggregate annual value of production in the town is around US$700 million. Much of the produce is exported, bringing in very valuable foreign exchange.

Water is scarce in the area and the wet processing of textiles has rendered the ground water unusable. A large quantity of salt is used in the







Yarn Water

Electrical Energy Firewood Chemicals Dyes / Inks

Packing Materials, Plastic Packing Materials, Paper Thread knitting bleaching dyeing calendering finishing printing solid waste tomsw

Resource solid waste tomsw

Resource knitting bleaching dyeing calendering


finished product

FIGURE 12.3. Resource flow analysis for Tirupur town. (Units: water, 1000 liters per day-, electrical energy, lOOOkWh per year; others, tons per year.)

dyeing process and the process wastewater (90 million liters per day) is highly saline and is contaminated with a variety of chemicals. As there is hardly any source of fresh water nearby, trucks bring in water from ground water sources (which are yet to be polluted) as far as 50 kilometers away at an enormous cost.

The response of the regulatory agencies to the public outcry about the destruction of water resources was to ask the industries to treat the water before discharge through traditional treatment systems. Since the individual industries were too small to afford such systems, a massive US$30 million project was set up to treat the wastewater at Central

Effluent Treatment Facilities. After such expensive treatment, the water will still be unusable, as the facility does not include any system for desalination of the wastewater.

A detailed RFA was carried out for the town. Only when the figures were aggregated did the industrialists realize that they were collectively spending over US$7 million annually on buying water and in addition, the annual maintenance cost of the effluent treatment plant would be an enormous burden. The aggregate figures immediately showed that water could be recycled profitably. On the basis of the study, a private entrepreneur developed a water recycling system, which could be installed in each dyeing unit. The system used the waste heat from the boilers already working in the dyeing units for the recycling process. This is a relatively low cost system, which is gaining popularity in the town.

The second outcome of the study was that the study highlighted the fact that the calorific value of the solid waste (garbage) was high as it contained large quantities of textile and paper wastes. This could be used effectively to partially replace the 500,000 tons of scarce firewood being used in the town (there is grave concern over rapid deforestation in India). Since the use of the firewood is distributed over nearly 1200 points, it was not obvious that such large quantities of firewood were being used. The possibility of setting up a central steam source (needed by some of the industries) is also under serious consideration in order to reduce the consumption of firewood.

Case Study of the Leather Industry in Tamil Nadu

This case study is intended to highlight the option of strategic relocation of an industry segment to ensure its long-term survival.

Tamil Nadu, a state in the south of India, is the premier center in India for the processing of leather. Water is extremely scarce in Tamil Nadu. The leather industry has been flourishing in the region for decades. Its growth has been possibly due to the fact that Madras was a major trading center during the British rule in India. The industry is a major foreign exchange earner and important to the economy of the state. The strict enforcement of environmental regulations in the developed countries have also helped the leather industry to grow, as the buyers in the developed countries prefer to source their tanned products from India. Compliance with strict environment regulations has rendered the processing very expensive in the developed world.

The leather industry (which is made up of thousands of small industries) is a major user of water, as each ton of hide/skin needs 30,000 to 50,000 liters of water for processing. This is a large volume, as the average per capita water availability for human settlement in India is estimated at around 30 liters per day. The industry has been under pressure from the pollution control authorities and many have subscribed to Central Effluent

Treatment Plants. The water after treatment continues to be unusable, as it is vary saline. The sludge from water treatment, estimated at 250 kg per 1000 kg of hide processed, continues to be a problem. The sludge is carelessly dumped and the pollutants leach into the groundwater. The industry often buys water in trucks at a high cost.

A detailed study in the context of industrial ecology helped in redefining the problem. The problem until now, was only viewed as a pollution control problem, where the effluents did not meet the specifications laid down by the pollution control authorities. Many academic studies have been undertaken to ensure that the effluent quality "comes as close as possible" to the standards.

However, the problem is much more serious. The industry is using a resource, water, which is extremely scarce in the region. It is also contaminating ground water in the region, which is causing great hardship to the population, as it is depriving them of desperately needed water. The industry has been using the slow judicial process in India to survive. However, it will not be long before the social pressure brings the industry to a halt.

In the long term, an alternate solution will need to be found. One of the options that could be considered in the context of industrial ecology, would be to relocate the entire industry along the coast, where the industry draws sea water, desalinates it for use, treats the waste water and discharges the saline waste water into the sea. The process of desalination is expensive. In order to reduce the cost of desalination, it may be possible to set up a thermal power plant and use the waste heat for desalination. The sludge from the process could also incinerated and the energy used in the desalination process (Figure 12.4).

Industrial Ecology Examples
FIGURE 12.4. A conceptual picture of an ideal system built around the leather industry.

A systemic view gave rise to new directions that could not have been possible within the traditional perspective of end-of-pipe pollution control.

Case Study of the Damodar Valley Region

The basin of the River Damodar, in the eastern part of India, covers a vast area. This mineral-rich region near Kolkata (formally known as Calcutta) is the source of much of the coal produced in India. Coal is a major energy source in the country. Many large power utilities and steel plants are located here, in addition to industries associated with coal, such as coal washeries and coke ovens. The region is considered very highly polluted.

An industrial metabolism study was undertaken in the region. The quantities of the flow of two of the major local resources, the waters of the River Damodar and coal, were studied. The results of the study gave a good overview of how the waters of the river and coal are used in the system (SIDBI 2001).

Since agriculture consumes nearly 85% of the waters of the river, it is critical to estimate the impact on the agricultural produce, of the thousands of tons of potentially toxic wastes dumped into the river, resulting from the high levels of industrial activity upstream. All along, to reduce the high levels of air pollution, the policy of the regulatory authorities had been to focus on the "major" polluters, which in their opinion were the steel and power plants. These plants have access to some of the best available technologies for controlling their pollution.

However, a study of the flow of coal gave surprising results. Huge quantities of coal are consumed in millions of homes and in the informal sector. In this sector, coal is used in very inefficient combustion systems, obviously without any pollution control systems, which makes the whole area extremely polluted. It was obvious that if the air had to be clean, a new fuel policy would have to be evolved. Some new systems of transportation of coal also need to be evolved to minimize the spillages during transportation, a major contributor to the dust levels of the region.

Even a broad understanding of the flow of the resources could serve as a guide to the policy maker and gives a new perspective and a direction for policy making.

Continue reading here: The Road Ahead

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  • obo
    Where in the us is example of industrial ecology?
    3 years ago