Eco-industrial parks in China


China is a large country in terms of population and the total amount of natural resources, but a small country in terms of per capita resources. China’s per capita major natural resources are far less than the world’s average level. Per capita cultivated land and water resources amount to just 1/3 and 1/4 of the world’s average level, respectively, and per capita reserves of raw coal, hydropower, petroleum and natural gas account for just 55%, 80%, 10% and 4% of the world’s average level, respectively. During the ten years from 1995 to 2004, gross domestic product (GDP) averaged an increase of 8.9% annually, gross industrial output value averaged growth of 9.3%, and the total quantity of industrial pollutants discharged annually rose an average of 2.3%. The rapidly growing speed of national economic development and the industrial level make substantial demands on on the supply of natural resources such as water, land, energy, raw materials, etc., worsening the conflict between population, resources and environment.

With regard to the rapid economic growth, China’s environmental system capacity cannot sustain the production system of high input, low output, high consumption and low efficiency, thus a coordinated economic development mode is being pursued to establish economic development within the threshold of ecological capacity.

caption Figure 1. Allocation of national Eco-Industrial Parks (EIPs) approved by the State Environmental Protection Administration of China (SEPA) (up to 2007 January)

Industry is an important “resource allocator” as well as “controller” of resource consumption and pollution. At present, China’s traditional industry is still dominant, thus the environmental performance is low and ecological technological renovation is a hard task. Therefore, realize industrial sustainability is a key task during the optimization of the overall structure of the economic system. For this reason, the central government proposes to guide the overall economic and social development with a scientific development approach and establish the strategic objective of developing a recycling economy and constructing a resource-saving and environmentally friendly society.

Eco-Industrial Parks (EIPs) are a new type of industrial organization designed according to the principles of industrial ecology (IE). They are a type of industrial park in which businesses cooperate with each other and with the local community in an attempt to reduce waste and efficiently share resources (such as information, materials, water, energy, infrastructure, and natural resources) with the intention of increasing economic gains and improving environmental quality. EIPs establish a network of material and energy flows among enterprises, so as to realize the highly effective utilization of resources and energy and the minimum discharge of waste by simulating the natural ecosystem. They are one form of a larger phenomenon called industrial symbiosis—the exchange or sharing of resources made possible by geographic proximity.

To promote the development of EIPs, the State Environmental Protection Administration of China (SEPA) initiated the pilot construction of eco-industrial demonstration parks in 1999 and established the Standard for the Construction and Management of Eco-Industrial Parks (on a trial basis) in 2006. As of January 2007, 24 national EIPs had been established throughout the country (see Table 1 and Figure 1).

Table 1. List of National EIPs (up to 2007 January)
No. Name Approval Document No. Type
1 National Eco-Industrial Demonstration Park in Guigang (Sugar Industry) [2001] No. 170 Reconstructed; Enterprise management
2 Nanhai National Eco-Industrial Demonstration Park -- South China Environmental Protection Industrial Park [2001] No. 293 Reconstructed; Government management
3 Baotou National Eco-Industrial Demonstration Park (Aluminum Industry) [2003] No. 102 Reconstructed; Enterprise management
4 Huangxing National Eco-Industrial Demonstration Park in Changsha [2003] No. 115 Reconstructed; Government management
5 Lubei National Eco-Industrial Demonstration Park [2003] No. 324 Reconstructed; Enterprise management
6 National Eco-Industrial Demonstration Park in Tianjin Economic-Technological Development Area [2004] No. 112 Reconstructed; Government management
7 National Eco-Industrial Demonstration Park of Fushun Mining Group [2004] No. 113 Reconstructed; Enterprise management
8 National Eco-Industrial Demonstration Park in Dalian Economic and Technological Development Area [2004] No. 114 Reconstructed; Government management
9 National Eco-Industrial Demonstration Park in Suzhou High-tech Zone [2004] No 115 Reconstructed; Government management
10 National Eco-Industrial Demonstration Park in Suzhou Industrial Park [2004] No. 116 Reconstructed; Government management
11 National Eco-Industrial Demonstration Park in Yantai Economic & Technological Development Zone [2004] No 426 Reconstructed; Government management
12 National Eco-Industrial Demonstration Base of Phosphorus-Coal-Based Chemical Industry in Kaiyang, Guiyang [2004] No. 418 Reconstructed; Government management
13 National Eco-Industrial Demonstration Park in Weifang Ocean Chemical High-tech Development Zone [2005] No. 99 Reconstructed; Government management
14 National Eco-industrial Demonstration Park in Shangjie District, Zhengzhou City [2005] No. 144 Reconstructed; Government management
15 Baotou National Eco-Industrial Demonstration Park (Iron and Steel Industry) [2005] No 536 Reconstructed; Enterprise management
16 Antai National Eco-Industrial Demonstration Park in Shanxi [2006] No. 198 Reconstructed; Enterprise management
17 Qingdao New World Eco-Industrial Park (Venous Industry) [2006] No. 347 Whole new; Enterprise management
18 National Eco-Industrial Demonstration Park in Zhangjiagang Free Trade Zone -- Yangtze River International Chemical Industrial Park [2006] No. 411 Reconstructed; Government management
19 National Eco-Industrial Demonstration Park in Kunshan Economic and Technological Development Zone [2006] No. 412 Reconstructed; Government management
20 National Eco-Industrial Demonstration Park in Fuzhou Economic and Technological Development Zone [2006] No. 417 Reconstructed; Government management
21 National Eco-Industrial Demonstration Park in Wuxi New District [2006] No. 467 Reconstructed; Government management
22 National Eco-Industrial Demonstration Park in Shaoxing Paojiang Industrial Zone [2006] No. 481 Reconstructed; Government management
23 National Eco-Industrial Demonstration Park in Rizhao Economic Development Zone [2006] No. 525 Reconstructed; Government management
24 National Eco-Industrial Demonstration Park in Shanghai Xinzhuang Industrial Park [2007] No. 30 Reconstructed; Government management

Basic Features

caption Figure 2. Development change of national Eco-Industrial Parks (EIPs) approved by SEPA.

Although construction of China’s eco-industrial parks (EIPs) started only recently, the establishment of EIPs have been progressing rapidly. The EIPs in China listed above can be described according to several basic characteristics:

Order of Establishment

In terms of order of establishment, the first EIPs approved by SEPA were created in 2001, among which Guigang and Nanhai were the earliest EIPs. In 2003, the eco-industrial demonstration parks of Baotou Aluminum Industry, Huangxing, Changsha and Lubei were approved. A total of 7 parks were approved in 2004, and an additional 3 parks in 2005. In 2006, 8 parks were approved for construction and establishment, exceeding the number of parks built in previous years (Fig. 2).


Fushun, Dalian, Tianjin, Lubei, Yantai, Weifang, Suzhou Hi-Tech Industrial Development Zone, Suzhou Economic and Technological Development Zone, Nanhai, Qingdao New World, Zhangjiagang Free Trade Zone, Kunshan, Fuzhou, Wuxi New District, Shaoxing Paojiang, Rizhao and Shanghai Xinzhuang are located in eastern China; Huangxing, Zhengzhou and Antai are in central China; and Guigang, Kaiyang, Baotou Aluminum Industry and Baotou Iron and Steel industry are in western China (Fig. 1). National EIPs lie mainly in the eastern region, accounting for about 71% (17 parks), while those in the central region account for 13% (3 parks), and those in the western region for 17% (4 parks) (Fig. 3).

When China's government launched its economic reforms in the late 1970s, new policies were often tried out in selected parts of the country and, after having been shown to be successful, were applied to the whole country. Especially the strategy of opening the economy internationally was very successful in the eastern coastal regions, where it was tried out first. But vast regions in the center and west of China are still underdeveloped and show few signs of catching up with the booming coastal regions. The result is widening disparities among the east, center, and west with regard to such conditions as education, economy, infrastructure, and social development. As regards foreign direct investment (FDI), the picture of the disadvantaged position of the inland regions (western and central regions) becomes clearer. According to National Bureau of Statistics data, over 80% of all FDI flows into the ten regions located on the coast. The Central and Western regions receive a meager 12% of all FDI. Because of the significant difference in industrialization bases, financial conditions and environmental awareness differ greatly across the regions. These are the major driving factors of uneven development of EIPs in China.

Purpose-built versus Reconstructed Parks

With regard to origins, there are basically two types of eco-industrial parks, i.e., those that are converted from existing industrial parks—called here "reconstructed parks"—and new parks or what might be called purpose-built or greenfield eco-industrial parks. Development of eco-industrial parks in China is controlled by the national government and thus eco-industrial parks are constructed and developed under governmental planning and instruction. Since construction of a new eco-industrial park requires more capital input and more sophisticated construction and only qualified enterprises may enter the park, there are few new parks. However, since conversion an existing park into an eco-industrial park supported by enterprises and development zones is feasible, those types of parks are predominant. Guigang, Baotou Aluminum Industry, Lubei, Fushun, Baotou Iron and Steel industry and Antai have been reconstructed in this manner with the support of enterprises and groups. All the remaining demonstration parks except Qingdao New World, a new eco-industrial demonstration park, are reconstructed on the basis of the original development zones (Table 1). A development zone is a special location where the national or regional local government select a geographic area to attract capital, technology or other external production elements and to promote economic development by implementation of new policies or reforms in this target area. Generally speaking, development zones are managed by administrative committee which part of a national or regional local government agency. This is a significant difference from enterprise management.

Enterprise versus Government Management

Eco-industrial parks can be classified into two types with respect to the entity responsible for management: those under enterprise management and those under government management. Guigang, Baotou Aluminum Industry, Lubei, Fushun, Baotou Iron and Steel Industry, Antai, and Qingdao New World are under enterprise management; the other parks are under government management, which are organized and managed by the administrative commissions of the development zones and the governments at city and county (district) levels (Table 1).

caption Figure 3. Spatial distribution of national EIPs approved by SEPA.[1]

In terms of types of industry, the eco-industrial parks based on the construction of development zones (under government management) have diversified types of industry and a larger scale than parks under enterprise management. For example, Nanhai EIP includes such industries as environmental protection, plastic, plate, and ceramic equipment manufacturing; Huangxing EIP includes electronics & information, new materials, bio-pharmacy, and environmental protection industries; the Tianjin EIP includes electronics, communication, pharmaceuticals, machinery, food manufacturing, utilization of waste paper, coal ash and domestic waste, and electroplating industry; Suzhou High-tech Zone includes electronics & information, precision instruments, bio-pharmaceuticals and new materials; while the types of industries in the following parks under enterprise management are relatively simple and concentrated: Baotou, Guigang, Lubei, Fushun, and Qingdao New World.

Industry Composition

In terms of industry composition, most of the parks are primarily made up of in manufacturing industries. Phosphorus, coal, chemistry, metallurgy, electronic communication, new materials, machinery, and bio-pharmaceutical industries are relatively common; only Guigang and Huangxing are closely related to agriculture, animal husbandry. Parks related to tourism industry include Dalian, Tianjin and Yantai, and Qingdao New World falls in the resource recycling category.


  1. ^Eastern China includes: Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, Guangdong Province, Jiangsu Province, Shandong Province, Liaoning Province, Zhejiang Province, Hebei Province, Fujiang Province, Hainan Province;

    Central China includes: Hubei Province, Hunan Province, Heilongjiang Province, Henan Province, Jilin Province, An’hui Province, Shanxi Province, Jiangxi Province;

    Western China includes: Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, Sichuan Province, Shaanxi Province, Yunnan Province, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, Chongqing, Guizhou Province, Gansu Province, Qinhai Province, Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Tibet Autonomous Region.

Further Reading

  • Fang, Y.P., Côté, R.P., and Qin, R. 2007. Industrial Sustainability in China: Practice and Perspective for Eco-Industrial Development. Journal of Environmental Management, 83(3):315-328(doi:10.1016/j.jenvman.2006.03.007).
  • Han, L., Song, T., and Tong, L.J., 2006. Models of typical eco-industrial parks and references to China. Scientia Geographica Sinica, 26(2):237-243.
  • Lowe, Ernest A. 2001. Eco-industrial Park Handbook for Asian Developing Countries, A Report to Asian Development Bank, Environment Department, Indigo Development, Oakland, CA. Also available in Chinese.
  • National Bureau of Statistics of China (NBSC).
  • State Environmental Protection Administration of China (SEPA).
  • Zhu, Q., E. A. Lowe, Y. Wei, D. Barnes, 2007. Industrial Symbiosis in China: A Case Study of the Guitang Group Journal of Industrial Ecology 11(1): 31-42. [2]
  • Wang, Y.H. 2005.Construction of resource-saving society is essential of modernization in China. Impact of Science on Society, 4:5-9.
  • Zhang, Z.M., 2006. Representation of environment pressure from China industry development and analysis of its system factors. Economic Geography, 26(4):561-564.



Fang, Y. (2008). Eco-industrial parks in China. Retrieved from


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