Globally, the unsustainable use of resources has triggered critical scarcities and caused climate change and widespread environmental degradation. Driven by these concerns, (coupled with the possibility to reduce costs) many companies are implementing resource efficient practices. Identifying and implementing resource, waste and energy efficient measures is in itself is a challenge, however. This is especially true for SMEs who may lack time or dedicated expertise.
To encourage resource efficiency among local companies the Government of the Western Cape (a province of South Africa) launched an Industrial Symbiosis programme in 2013.
Industrial symbiosis is a resource efficiency approach where leftover or waste resources from one company are used by another.
The Western Cape Industrial Symbiosis Programme (WISP) facilitates symbiotic interactions between local companies. WISP staff meet with member companies to identify under-utilised resources. All data is collected in a secure online database, and work is conducted to identify potential matches between businesses in the network. Once a use has been identified, WISP helps companies to implement change, by providing support (advise/consultancy), and organising meetings and resource exchanges.
WISP has worked with large and small companies, from a range of sectors including food, textiles and manufacturing.
All WISP services are provided for free: it is fully funded by the City of Cape Town. The programme is delivered by GreenCape, a non-profit that drives the adoption of green economy solutions. It was calculated that for every Rand invested by government, WISP creates about 4 Rand of economic benefits in the network.
In the first 5 years of operation WISP achieved: 27,000 tonnes of waste diverted from landfill; 74,000 tonnes of GHG emissions avoided; R43 million (€2.5 million) created in financial benefits for member companies; 143 jobs created in local economy.
The programme shows how with a relatively small investment a large impact can be achieved. Companies generally don’t have the know-how or the network to spot possible synergies. Networks such as WISP can fill this gap perfectly.
This model was transferred from the UK and is quite easy to replicate. GML 9.