Western Cape Industrial Symbiosis Programme

Partners International Synergies, GreenCape, National Cleaner Production Centre


The Western Cape Industrial Symbiosis Programme (WISP) was initiated by the Western Cape Government of South Africa in April 2013. WISP is funded by the WCG’s Green Economy initiative, which is administered through the Department of Economic Development and Tourism (DED&T). Although funded by WCG, WISP is delivered by GreenCape, a Sector Development Agency for the Green Economy established by the WCG in 2010.

Government funding enables WISP to provide a free service that connects companies with the aim of identifying business opportunities from under-used resources, leading to enhanced business profitability and sustainability.

WISP has a team of facilitators that work full time to build the industrial symbiosis network, identifying under-utilised resources that could lead to business opportunities or ‘synergies’ for member companies. Such synergies are identified during meetings and workshops held between all of the network’s partners.

Multiple stakeholders benefit from the network in different ways: for businesses, it directly improves profitability environmental performance, and at an economy wide level, economic growth, reduced resource and carbon intensity, less materials lost to landfills, job creation as well as the development of small businesses. The government provides provincial and local staff who are responsible for waste management and economic development, to serve on the steering committee, providing strategic direction and practical assistance to enable WISP to have maximum impact.

WISP is based on the facilitated approach to industrial symbiosis developed by International Synergies (NISP), which operated in the UK between 2005 and 2013.

WISP expects to double its budget and employee numbers in 2015.

Other forces that have encouraged the success of WISP include the policy-level drive for an improved industrial waste management system, the need to divert waste from landfills and the national imperative for job creation. The success of the programme is primarily due to the large and diverse network of participating companies as well as high-level stakeholder buy-in providing public support and assistance recruiting new members to the network.

The involvement of International Synergies has been key to WISP’s success supporting the development and implementation of the programme. Finally, the success of WISP’s pilot year has served as a foundation for a national industrial symbiosis programme in South Africa, resulting in the development of similar programmes in KwaZulu Natal and Gauteng in South Africa.


Companies engaged in WISP have collectively generated ZAR 3.05 million additional revenue (equivalent) and cost savings of ZAR 2.57 million (equivalent). The project has redirected over 200 tonnes of material waste away from landfill into productive reuse by other companies within the network. Synergies implemented with support from WISP have reduced the region’s carbon emissions by 1,404 tonnes CO2 equivalent.