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The Western Cape Industrial Symbiosis Programme (WISP) recognised and awarded by WEF

26th January 2018

The Western Cape Industrial Symbiosis Programme (WISP), a free facilitation service to companies, has been selected as runner-up in the World Economic Forum (WEF) Circular Economy: Public Sector award of The Circulars 2018.

The awards ceremony

The awards ceremony took place at the WEF’s annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland on 22nd January.

They recognised notable contributions to the circular economy – where resources are kept and reused in the economy for as long as possible.

Business-focused waste programme

Cape Town-based WISP – piloted by the Western Cape Government in 2013 and currently funded by the city of Cape Town – acts as a bridge between companies to facilitate the exchange of under-utilised or discarded resources of one company that could be of benefit to another.

Over the last four years, WISP has diverted more than 27,200 tonnes of waste from landfill; generated R41.6 million in direct cash benefits for its members; and created 140 jobs in the local economy. You can read more on ESI-Africa.

The programme has reduced greenhouse gas emissions by the equivalent of 44,000 trees planted or nine 2.2MW wind turbines installed.

Executive Mayor Patricia De Lille of the city of Cape Town, commented: “The city of Cape Town is a proud WISP supporter and funder. The programme is an amazing celebration of innovation, resilience and creativity by local firms in Cape Town.

“The city embraces the challenge to think creatively about waste streams and WISP encourages us to see opportunity in resources that would otherwise be sent to landfill.”

Award finalists

WISP was nominated as one of only two African finalists for the Circulars 2018.

Vincent Biruta, Rwanda’s Minister of Environment was finalist in the Leadership category for his efforts to support government institutions and private sector alignment for the circular economy in Rwanda.

The programme was the first industrial symbiosis programme (ISP) established in Africa with funding from the Western Cape Government and the British High Commission.

Industrial symbiosis programme

WISP adapted a successful UK-facilitated ISP model to the South African context.

Its success has catalysed the development of other ISPs in other South African provinces such as Gauteng (GISP), KwaZulu Natal (KISP) and demonstration activities in the Eastern Cape.

As a result of WISP’s experience being shared across the continent, ISPs are being established in other African countries such as Ghana and Mauritius.

The benefits of ISPs for the provinces and countries with such programmes can be significant. ‘WISP fills a niche in the City of Cape Town’s waste strategy, which creates notable social, economic and environmental benefits,” says Mike Mulcahy, CEO of GreenCape, the NPO which is delivering the programme.

Mulcahy added: “The team unlocks cost savings and creates new business opportunities for the manufacturing members who participate, creating a truly circular economy programme.”

Echoing this sentiment, Gisela Kaiser, executive director of Informal Settlements, Water and Waste for the City of Cape Town, said: “In a City of four million people, opportunities like WISP that divert waste from landfill, reduce fossil greenhouse gas emissions, create jobs and extract a tremendous amount of economic value, are a superb outcome for the City and businesses located in the Cape Town.

“To receive global recognition from the WEF for this work, should be a proud moment for South Africans and those small and large businesses that are members of WISP.”

Minister of Economic Opportunities, Alan Winde of the Western Cape Government, said: “When we saw the success of the ISPs in the UK and elsewhere, we knew that a similar programme had the potential to transform our provincial economy. For that reason, we have supported WISP since its establishment in 2013.

“We hope that this distinguished award will help WISP and other IS programmes around the country grow their already substantial database of companies who are willing to share and sell their waste rather than send it to landfill.”

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