EU Project Fund Supports Resource Efficiency and Cleaner Production in Africa through Industrial Symbiosis
The European Union (EU) has established a project fund to finance a pilot project implementing an innovative approach to waste management known as industrial symbiosis. In the coming 30 months, some 600 enterprises in six African countries will be trained in industrial symbiosis which is centered on identifying beneficial reuse for waste resources between industries.
The management of waste poses a mammoth environmental challenge worldwide. It is a feature of the unprecedented socio-economic expansion of populations, industrialization and urbanization, and has become an environmental nuisance that threatens the well-being of societies. The traditional solution of disposing waste by dumping is no longer acceptable when coping with the vastly increased dimensions of waste. This has prompted the concern of international, regional and national institutions to conceive innovative and practical solutions to the problem of waste management. The EU has taken a leading role in promoting in Africa the recently developed innovative approach known as industrial symbiosis.
Industrial Symbiosis – a conservative approach for managing production waste
The concept of industrial symbiosis is based on that position that realistically there is no material which is waste per se, just a resource in the wrong place. They idealise that each item that is normally viewed as a production waste – be it materials, energy, water, excreta, and even manpower — can be turned into a useful resource input for another process. The tactical challenge is simply to identify the producer of a certain waste and to connect for association with the other persons who can use the same ‘waste’ as a productive resource/input.
Industrial symbiosis aims to create synergies amongst micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) to reuse wastes. It assists enterprises to identify and quantify their waste streams, find alternatives for decreasing them and put in place matching arrangements where each other’s respective waste and needs will be identified. It thus addresses the problem of waste management in the context of cleaner production and resource efficiency, whilst enhancing financial profitability.
Since the development of the NISP model of industrial symbiosis in the UK in 2003, facilitated industrial symbiosis has been implemented in Europe, Americas and Asia, and gained wide acceptance as an effective environmental management tool. In Africa the facilitated model of industrial symbiosis has successfully been implemented in South Africa and Ghana.
SWITCH Africa Green
For Africa the European Union (EU) has now established its SWITCH Africa Green Project (SAG) for the purpose of assisting enterprises to adopt and adapt sustainable consumption and production (SCP) practices. The project will be implemented under the overall management of United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). SAG has started with a 30 month pilot phase in six countries in Africa under three components: policy, networking, and greening business.
Programme for Implementation of the Industrial Symbiosis Pilot Project 2016-2018
For the purposes of implementation of the pilot phase in greening business, a project has been established titled “Enhancing Resource Productivity and Environmental Performance of MSMEs in six African countries through the concept of industrial symbiosis”. This will run for 30 months from January 2016 to June 2018, and is targeted to train some 600 enterprises to introduce them to the practice of industrial symbiosis. The Grantee which has been selected through competitive bidding to execute the pilot phase is the African Roundtable on Sustainable Consumption and Production (ARSCP), a regional not-for-profit organization that promotes SCP, with its project partners in six pilot countries. The ARSCP will draw on the technical backing of Industrial Symbiosis Ltd of UK. The pilot countries are evenly spread across in sub-Sahara Africa, two in each of the sub-regions of: western, eastern and southern Africa, viz. Burkina Faso, Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, Mauritius and South Africa. The six partners are:
- The South African National Cleaner Production Centre,
- National Cleaner Production Centre of Ghana,
- The Kenya National Cleaner Production Centre,
- Uganda National Cleaner Production Centre,
- Solid Waste Management Division, Mauritius Ministry of Environment,
Sustainable Development and Disaster and Beach Management, and
- The Women Environmental Programme, Burkina Faso.
This project comes at an opportune time for Africa which faces the highest rates of growth of population, industrialization and urbanization in the world, but still lacks satisfactory mechanisms for managing their adverse impacts, including waste management.
It is expected that the successful implementation in the six pilot countries will demonstrate the need for industrial symbiosis to be extended and spread across all other countries in the whole continent.
It is hoped that the Governments of Africa countries, the business sector and the International Community will lend their full support to facilitate the success of this industrial symbiosis initiative.
ARSCP, Project Grantee.