Cleaner production – more than just a noble idea | Infrastructure news

“The NCPC-SA’s network of expertise is invaluable in demonstrating successes and assisting companies in exploring new technologies for solutions to waste prevention as a different resource,” says Liz Anderson, executive director and president of the RMPASA

Preventing waste, managing resources

Environmental awareness in industry has come a long way in the 10 years that RPMASA (Responsible Packaging Management Association of Southern Africa) has been championing an environmentally-friendly, safe and responsible approach to packaging manufacturing, transport and disposal. It is towards this mission that the National Cleaner Production Centre of South Africa (NCPC-SA) has also been working for the past decade.

Established in 2002, the NCPC-SA is a key industrial sustainability programme of the Department of Trade and Industry. It assists industry in preventing waste at source and in managing resources more efficiently along the value delivery chain, utilising resource efficiency and cleaner production (RECP) methodologies and tools. RECP has become the preferred strategy in reconciling the dual needs of economic growth (through competitiveness) and environmental protection (through waste minimisation and efficient resource use). Examples of RECP practices include the following:

  • improved housekeeping, especially around material flows and maintenance practices
  • process modification that may include surface coatings and filtration systems
  • product redesign that may include natural material use
  • changes to technology that may combine operations that reduce wasteful practices
  • input material substitution, for example, substituting a water-based ink for a solvent-based one in printing processes
  • on-site recycling, which could mean the recovery of a nickel-plating solution using an ion-exchange unit.


Reduced operating costs
Improved environmental solutions
Increased competitive advantage
Improved workplace quality
More economical flows of materials
Productivity improvement
Better compliance with environmental regulations
A more positive public profile
The NCPC-SA currently focuses on eight key industrial sectors, which are: agro-processing; fibres, textiles and clothing; chemicals, plastics fabrication, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals; metals fabrication, capital and transport equipment; automotives; pulp and paper; tourism and hospitality; and green industries, including waste recycling/remanufacturing. Quick-scan and detailed in-plant assessments undertaken in companies in these sectors over two years yielded potential savings opportunities of more than R78 million in terms of energy, water and materials usage (including waste minimisation), and process improvements.

The NCPC-SA also manages the Industrial Energy Efficiency Improvement project, which was launched in 2010 in response to the growing need to improve energy efficiency in South Africa. The objective is to involve medium to large companies to demonstrate significant energy performance improvements. In addition, the centre contributes to capacity building in the country through RECP and energy-related training events presented by international experts, a studentship programme and an SMME accelerator programme.

For more information on the NCPC-SA’s services and training events as well as participation opportunities, visit the following websites: and

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