Western Cape Industrial Symbiosis Programme

City of Cape Town, South Africa

SDG 8: Decent work and economic growthSDG 9: Industry innovation and infrastructure
The Western Cape Industrial Symbiosis Programme (WISP) is a free facilitation service which uses industrial symbiosis to enhance business profitability and sustainability. The programme is carried out by GreenCape, a Sector Development Agency established by the Western Cape Provincial Government and The City of Cape Town, and provides a service connecting companies so that they can identify and realise the business opportunities enabled by using underutilised or residual resources (materials, expertise, logistics, capacity, energy and water). The program was the first industrial symbiosis program established in Africa and stretches across the Western Cape that covers six districts, including the City of Cape Town. It is one of a number of Green Economy initiatives of the Western Cape Government, supporting the province’s intention to become the Green economic hub of South Africa and Africa.

South Africa faces challenges in regard 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 waste. However, for industrial symbiosis to work it requires a high level of trust and co-operation between the parties involved in the symbiosis. WISP tries to overcome this challenge by facilitating mutually benefitting partnerships showcasing the social, environmental and economic possibilities of resources reutilization.

Good practices and solutions

WISP provides a free service that connects companies from different sectors with each other so that they can identify and realise the business opportunities enabled by utilising unused or residual resources, enhancing business profitability and sustainability.

In practice, facilitators from WISP support its member companies to implement synergies by organising samples, meetings and ensuring that each synergy is legally sound. The facilitators fill the gaps that its members, especially small and medium-sized enterprises, could experience due to lack of time or dedicated expertise needed to identify and implement resource-, waste- and energy management. In exchange for this free of charge service, the organisation asks for feedback on the financial, social and environmental benefits gained from the match to further improve future matches.

Outcomes & Opportunities

By sharing resources, the members of WISP cut costs, increase profits, improve their business processes, create new revenue streams and operates more sustainably. The industrial symbiosis network now consists of over 300 companies and 3,000 resources have been identified within member companies. The cumulative impact over the last six years has been the following: 36 600 tonnes of waste diverted from landfill; 147 700 fossil GHG emissions saved (equivalent to the electrical usage of 39 800 households in South Africa); R67.9 million generated in financial benefits (additional revenue, cost savings and private investments); and 143 jobs created in the economy (25 directly in member companies).

Related SDG targets


Photo: © Chuttersnap/Unsplash

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Project: Circular Baltic 2030