Tracking urban sustainability transition : An eco-efficiency analysis on eco-industrial development in Ulsan, Korea

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

20 Scopus Citations
View graph of relations



Original languageEnglish
Article number121286
Journal / PublicationJournal of Cleaner Production
Online published28 Mar 2020
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jul 2020


The ecologically efficient transformation of natural resources into economic output is a critical pathway to achieve urban and industrial sustainability. Eco-efficiency approach offers an effective tool to uncover both the status and trends of such a transformation. This paper applied a modified eco-efficiency approach in combination with data envelopment analysis, to analyze the sustainability transition of Ulsan metropolis, Korea, under a fifteen years’ promotion (2000–2015) of eco-industrial development (EID). In the design for analysis, eco-efficiency change – both at industrial park level and the regional level – was investigated to analyze whether eco-efficiency improvements at the park level coincide with those at the regional level. Our main findings were highlighted as: At the regional level, from 2000 to 2015, eco-efficiency of industrial waste generation and energy use has improved by 35.0% and 21.4%, respectively, driven by a significant reduction in waste and energy intensities attributable to technological improvements (EID promotion and urban-industrial symbiosis). At the industrial park/complex level, two national eco-industrial parks (EIPs) in Ulsan showed highest eco-efficiency (pure technical efficiency was 1.0) in analytical years, compared with nine regional industrial complexes. At both levels of analysis, EIPs stood out as eco-efficient and their contribution to urban sustainability transition was overwhelming. Moreover, EIP implementation and urban-industrial symbiosis in Ulsan were identified as the major drivers of regional EID policy. Based on our critical findings, EID was highlighted as a preventative and regenerative approach to improve eco-efficiency at the regional and industrial park level, enlightening other regional and local initiatives towards urban sustainability.

Research Area(s)

  • Eco-efficiency, Eco-industrial development (EID), Eco-industrial park (EIP), Industrial ecology, Industrial symbiosis, Urban sustainability