An industrial symbiosis program in Cape Town is facilitating waste and CO2 reduction via resource exchanges between companies, and is also encouraging small business development and job creation.

The Challenge

South Africa faces challenges with respect to resource use, including its reliance on fossil fuels for energy, water scarcity, and high landfill rates. Industrial symbiosis aims to address this by promoting reuse and recycling of industrial water.

The Solution

The Western Cape Industrial Symbiosis Programme (WISP) is a free business facilitation service based in Cape Town, and is the first industrial symbiosis program in Africa. It connects companies so they can realize the benefits of exchanging underutilized or wasted resources. WISP targets the diversion of all industrial waste from landfill, complementing the city's zero waste to landfill activities. The program also focuses on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, generating financial benefits for companies and creating jobs. WISP has an enterprise development program, which creates new businesses via an incubation program linking entrepreneurs to raw material supply agreements. Workshops have identified more than 4,000 potential synergies between the 486 companies that are part of the WISP network. WISP has also developed an international standard carbon calculator to measure emissions savings from materials saved from landfilling and emissions avoided in producing and transporting new raw materials. Over the next three years, WISP synergies are expected to generate 64,500 metric tons in CO2 equivalent savings.

Environmental Benefits – WISP has diverted a total 4,950 metric tons of waste from landfill, saving CO2 equating to 15,500 trees growing over 30 years.

Economic Benefits – In just three years, WISP is expected to generate $2.27 million in economic benefits and promises a three to one rate of return on investment.

About Cities100

Presented by C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group (C40), Sustainia and Realdania – Cities100 2017 showcases leading solutions to urban climate challenges in five sectors: Energy, Waste, Adaptation, Mitigation and Transportation.

Available online and in print, Cities100 provides stakeholders an accessible format to explore achievable solutions for climate action in cities, and will be a useful tool for relevant groups ranging from impact investors and development organizations, to mayors and city governments. You can access the full Cities100 2017 publication online here.

  • Economic
  • Environmental
Emissions Reduction
46,700 metric tons of CO2 equivalent saved over four years since the program launch
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