Developing curated Eco-Industrial Parks: A scoping review and framework

Activity: Talks and presentationsConference presentations


Literature on sustainability in industrial areas is diverse, and has been spanning different disciplines and concepts, such as eco-industrial parks (EIPs) and industrial symbiosis networks (ISN). Many streams of the research field are highly specialized, and, currently, we are lacking an encompassing overview of the field. This article aims at filling this gap and provides a novel overview of how research addresses sustainability in industrial areas.

The method is characterized by an approach that purposely spans across disciplines and includes a wide range of relevant keywords in the search. It applies a novel bibliometric method to science mapping for filtering and structuring this wide body of literature. This approach is called the Semantic Similarity Score method and it uses transformer models, natural language processing, and graph theory to analyse semantic and conceptual similarity of articles’ content (Østergaard et al., forthcoming). By relying on this method, it creates picture of the field, which is based on its content and thereby avoids disadvantages of citations-based reviews (Buschman & Michalek, 2013).

The results of the first part of this study show 1056 scientific articles grouped into communities of semantic similarity. 16 of these communities contain more than 10 articles. It is these larger communities, which can be regarded as groups of publications that represent research specialties within the larger theme of ‘sustainability in industrial areas’. Therefore, these were included in the following analysis. In each community, we extracted the most common words based on the c-TF-IDF approach and the 3 most characteristic papers based on their eigenvector centrality. Based on this information we could characterize the communities and identify two main themes:

The first theme concerns pollution & risk in industrial areas and includes 10 communities with 328 articles. The second theme addresses EIP and ISN development and includes 6 communities with 218 articles. The topics and research focus within these themes is analysed. Different perspectives on sustainability that research on industrial areas typically takes emerged through this analysis. Thereafter, connections within and across the communities are shown via co-citation analysis. This analysis points towards unexploited synergies that could arise through connecting distant communities.

A second part of this study includes the in-depth analysis of the second theme, which concerns EIP and ISN development. Taking departure in two identified research communities, a systematic review of articles is conducted, which point towards design recommendations for eco-industrial parks. Leaning on the 8 steps suggested by Jabareen (2009), a model is developed which identifies and discusses critical factors for each phase of the development process. The analysis highlights those critical factors described by literature until now and identifies shortcomings that point to future research avenues.

The contribution of this study is twofold: First, it provides a novel and interdisciplinary overview of research on sustainability in industrial areas. Second, it presents an actionable process design model for the development of eco-industrial park and outlines critical factors for the development process.
Period2 Jul 2023
Event title11th biennial conference of the International Society for Industrial Ecology: Transitions in a world in turmoil
Event typeConference
LocationLeiden, NetherlandsShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • Industrial ecology
  • Scoping review
  • Literature review
  • Systematic literature review
  • Process model
  • Critical factors
  • Design of eco-industrial parks
  • Eco-industrial park development
  • Industrial symbiosis
  • Interdisciplinarity
  • Science mapping