Executive editor of Business Report, Adri Senekal De Wet, with Mike Mulcahy, CEO at Greencape, a runner up in the circle economy wards in #Davos at the World Economic Forum.

JOHANNESBURG - The Western Cape Industrial Symbiosis Programme (Wisp), a free facilitation service to companies, has been selected as runner-up in the Circular Economy: Public Sector Award of The Circulars 2018. 

The awards ceremony took place at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, on Monday night. 

The prestigious event, a WEF initiative, recognised notable contributions to the circular economy – where resources are kept and reused in the economy for as long as possible. 

Wisp makes its contribution by connecting companies so that under-utilised or discarded resources of one company can be used by another. 

Executive mayor of the City of Cape Town, Patricia De Lille said: “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.” 

Over the last four years, Wisp has diverted more than 27 200 tons of waste from landfill, generated R41.6 million in direct cash benefits for its members and created 140 jobs in the local economy. Wisp was nominated as one of two African finalists for the Circulars 2018. 

The programme was the first industrial symbiosis programme (ISP) established in Africa with funding from the Western Cape Government and the British High Commission. Wisp adapted a successful UK-facilitated ISP model to the South African context. Its success has catalysed the development of other ISPs in other 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, the chief executive of GreenCape, the NPO that is delivering the programme. “The team unlocks cost savings and creates new business opportunities for the manufacturing members who participate, creating a truly circular economy programme.”

Gisela Kaiser, executive director of informal settlements, water and waste for the City of Cape Town shares the sentiment: “In a City of 4 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.”

WISP’s success lies in its extensive network of manufacturing companies and its expert facilitators. WISP facilitators engage members to gather information on under-utilised resources and rapidly identify mutually beneficial synergies between members. Wisp provides what its members lack – capacity and technical expertise – to implement solutions that will make them more sustainable and the ability to collectively address major environmental issues affecting the manufacturing sector. 

“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”, said minister of economic opportunities, Alan Winde of the Western Cape government.

- BUSINESS REPORT