Over 7,600 tonnes of waste have been diverted from landfills, 25,300 tonnes of fossil Green House Gases have been saved, and R24 million in financial benefits have been delivered to member companies of the Western Cape Industrial Symbiosis Programme (WISP). These, and other environmental successes, were celebrated by the Mayor of the City of Cape Town, Patricia de Lille in her address at the recent inaugural WISP business breakfast.
WISP is a free facilitation service, funded by the City of Cape Town as well as the Western Cape Government and delivered by GreenCape, the Sector Developmental Agency for the green economy in the province. By utilizing an Industrial Symbiosis approach that connects over 490 member companies with unused or residual resources such as energy, water, assets, services, waste, transport, logistics and expertise, WISP enhances business profitability and sustainability within the Western Cape. In addition, for every 290 tonnes of waste that WISP diverts, a job is created. To date, 25 temporary jobs, 17 permanent jobs at member organisations and 63 jobs in the economy have been generated. De Lille said: “It is very encouraging to see opportunity in products that would otherwise have been disposed on our landfill sites. In terms of our new Organisational Development Transformation Plan, we don’t want any further landfill sites to be built in the City of Cape Town. That will help all the initiatives that have come from WISP and its members to grow even further.”
She continued: “Industrial Symbiosis identifies business opportunities to improve resource efficiency and typically results in economic, social and environmental benefits for all the companies involved. It also gives a real expression for the circular economy which aims to see materials used productively for as long as possible before disposal.” De Lille added that the impacts of climate change present very real challenges to Cape Town in general and its economy in particular. “I would like to pay tribute to all the members of WISP who are using this programme to improve efficiencies in the economy and who are contributing to our response to climate change. You are helping to build a resilient city economy that is better prepared to deal with the shocks and stresses of climate change.”
The free-to-attend breakfast highlighted the value that WISP adds to businesses in the city and province with three companies sharing their resource efficiency stories. They detailed the changes they have made to energy and water consumption as well as waste management and how those changes have helped them to improve their business processes, operate more sustainably and save money.
Chris Handt, Operations Manager at ACA Threads, which has been a WISP member since its inception in 2013, unpacked the sewing thread manufacturer’s energy reduction journey. To decrease its electricity consumption, meters were installed in every department throughout the factory and the data from this was then analysed. Based on these findings, further interventions were implemented which included the staggering of machine usage, introduction of a variable speed drive compressor, changing all bulbs in the plant to energy saving ones and putting 131 KW Photo Voltaic (PV) cells on the roof. The outcome has been a drop in the factory’s monthly electricity usage from 130,000 KW to 100,000 KW with a saving of R40, 000. Furthermore, whatever electricity is not used from the PV cells is being pumped back into the grid. ACA Threads aims to continue cutting its electricity consumption and will be utilising lights with timers or motion sensors, replacing old motors with new inverter motors and adding additional PV capacity.
GlaxoSmithKline’s (GSK) Tony Laughton shared that through its water conservation interventions, GSK experienced a 42% reduction in wastage over the past seven years. These have included the use of reject water from reverse osmosis tanks to supply water to the factory’s HVAC cooling towers, the installation of a solar hot water system to reduce water wastage whilst awaiting heating, retrofitting toilets with econo-flush systems and putting demand taps on 42 basins around the plant. After undergoing the City of Cape Town’s Water Star Rating Certification assessment, GSK received a 5-star rating for its water-saving efforts.
Charles Dominion, Owner of Simple Active Tactics SA Pty Ltd, noted the value of waste for his business. As a manufacturer and processor of granular abrasives for sandblasting, most of the company’s products are made by using waste from industry. Through WISP, the company has now been able to add to its product line-up by using recycled glass offcuts from the glazing industry, 200 tonnes per month of which was being dumped in landfills. The resultant product is used as abrasives as well as in swimming pool filtration systems.
GreenCape CEO Mike Mulcahy concluded the breakfast by saying: “There is evidence that there are increasing extreme events happening in regions and cities worldwide as a consequence both of climate change and how we’ve been producing goods and services in the past. There is a massive opportunity for Cape Town and this region to take a leading role in providing solutions to many of these problems. GreenCape’s role is to enable companies to look for these solutions, access opportunities, succeed in their businesses and access the green economy.”
The breakfast is one of the many networking opportunities offered to WISP members, comprising companies and organisations of all sizes, sectors and turnovers within the Western Cape. These are designed to help grow businesses and make them more resource efficient.