Trash may be treasure for South African manufacturers | Infrastructure news

Ndivhuho Raphulu, director at the NCPC-SA, a national government programme

Over the past three months, over 190 000 tonnes of waste has been diverted from landfill and converted into valuable feedstock for South African industry as part of the Industrial Symbiosis (IS) Programme at the National Cleaner Production Centre South Africa (NCPC-SA).

Impressive results

Between April and June 2017, 25 participating IS Programme companies in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal diverted 193 193 tonnes of landfill waste, eliminated 58 055 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions, reduced virgin resource use 193 193 tonnes and saved 1 422 800 m3 of industrial water.

In addition, the Western Cape Industrial Symbiosis Programme, which is run by GreenCape, features 490 member companies that have collectively diverted over 7 900 tonnes of waste from landfill, resulting in over R33-million in cost saving and new revenue, and the creation of 127 jobs.

It’s time for businesses to reap the rewards of this low-hanging fruit

Although SA is still regarded as the African manufacturing powerhouse, its competitiveness has been waning in recent years. Local industries remain under increasing pressure; from investors to maximise bottom line profit, from unions to retain jobs, and from government and consumers to be more environmentally-friendly and sustainable.

Every year at least R17 billion worth of valuable secondary resources are lost to the SA economy as waste disposed of in landfill. Up to 70% of the country’s estimated 59 million tonnes of general waste can be diverted into materials recovery (recycling) and the balance into energy recovery.

This ensures that valuable materials are returned to a local manufacturing economy – creating direct job opportunities for low-skilled and unemployed citizens, as well as the opportunity to establish new enterprises, thereby stimulating a local green economy.

Finding solutions

The IS Programme is a direct, easily-accessible solution to these challenges, and industry efficiency innovator NCPC-SA is at the forefront of reinforcing the concept that ‘one man’s trash is another man’s treasure’.

“The IS Programme enables participating companies to save money on raw materials, explore new innovations for wasted resources, generate new business opportunities, reduce their carbon footprint and improve their environmental performance,” says Ndivhuho Raphulu, director at the NCPC-SA, a national government programme.

South Africa’s IS Programme model is based on the British National Industrial Symbiosis Programme (NISP). In eight years, the NISP was able to help UK companies;

  • Divert 47-million tonnes of industrial waste from landfill
  • Generate £1-billion in new sales
  • Reduce carbon emissions by 42-million tonnes
  • Cut costs by £1-billion by reducing disposal, storage, transport and purchasing costs
  • Reuse 1.8-million tonnes of hazardous waste
  • Create and safeguard over 10,000 jobs
  • Save 60-million tonnes of virgin material
  • Save 73-million tonnes of industrial water
Given the promising numbers of the local IS Programme to date, SA has the ability to mirror Britain’s success, but only if there is full support and commitment from government and industry.

To find out more about the IS Programme visit


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