Africa’s First Industrial Symbiosis Programme

Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race

Generating multiple benefits for the manufacturing industry Africa’s First Industrial Symbiosis Programme


The need - With high unemployment rates in the Western Cape province, the government aimed to create jobs. To stimulate economic growth while reducing environmental degradation, the Western Cape government put forward its Green Economy Strategy Framework in 2013. To demonstrate the benefits of a green economy for society and the environment, the Western Cape Government was looking for innovative projects to implement on the ground.

The solution - The Western Cape Industrial Symbiosis Programme (WISP) is Africa’s first industrial symbiosis programme. The programme is funded by government departments and delivered by GreenCape, a non-profit organisation. WISP is a free facilitation service that seeks to create mutually beneficial links or “synergies” between member companies. The programme attempts to connect companies so that they can identify and realise the business opportunities by utilising unused or residual resources (materials, energy, water, assets, logistics, and expertise). The programme not only diverts waste from landfills, it also adds value to materials, prolonging material use through multiple applications, and the creation of new opportunities for businesses.

The outcomes - To date, the programme has diverted more than 104,900 tonnes of waste from landfills, while creating 218 economy-wide jobs, mainly in SMEs. By providing many new business opportunities, it has generated over ZAR 120 million (USD 8.50 million) in additional revenue, cost savings, and private investments.

How does the initiative support the transition to a circular economy? - Industrial symbiosis increases material and resource flows across industries that would otherwise be wasted - while creating new business opportunities. The exchanges of under-utilised resources provide mutual benefits for businesses by generating new revenue streams and reducing operational costs.

Africa’s First Industrial Symbiosis Programme


This case study was originally published on: 28/10/2020

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