An industrial symbiosis program in Cape Town is facilitating waste and CO2 reduction via resource exchanges between companies, and is also encouraging small business development and job creation.

The Western Cape Industrial Symbiosis Programme (WISP) is a free business facilitation service based in Cape Town, and is the first industrial symbiosis program in Africa. It connects companies so they can realize the benefits of exchanging underutilized or wasted resources. WISP targets the diversion of all industrial waste from landfill, complementing the city’s zero waste to landfill activities. The program also focuses on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, generating financial benefits for companies and creating jobs.

WISP has an enterprise development program, which creates new businesses via an incubation program linking entrepreneurs to raw material supply agreements. Workshops have identified more than 4,000 potential synergies between the 486 companies that are part of the WISP network. WISP has also developed an international standard carbon calculator to measure emissions savings from materials saved from landfilling and emissions avoided in producing and transporting new raw materials. Over the next three years, WISP synergies are expected to generate 64,500 metric tons in CO2 equivalent savings.

46,700 metric tons of CO2 equivalent saved over four years since the program launch

The challenge

South Africa faces challenges with respect to resource use, including its reliance on fossil fuels for energy, water scarcity, and high landfill rates. Industrial symbiosis aims to address this by promoting reuse and recycling of industrial water.


Economic In just three years, WISP is expected to generate $2.27 million in economic benefits and promises a three to one rate of return on investment.

Environmental WISP has diverted a total 4,950 metric tons of waste from landfill, saving CO2 equating to 15,500 trees growing over 30 years.

Social WISP promotes local employment and so far, 20 permanent jobs and 25 temporary jobs have been added at member companies.

About Cape Town

Cape Town is a coastal city in South Africa. It is the second-most populous urban area in South Africa after Johannesburg. It is also the capital and primate city of the Western Cape province. The city is famous for its harbour, for its natural setting in the Cape Floristic Region, and for such well-known landmarks as Table Mountain and Cape Point. It is one of the most multicultural cities in the world, reflecting its role as a major destination for immigrants and expatriates to South Africa.

Cape Town
View profile

Global Goals addressed