NCPC-SA Industrial Efficiency Conference a success

Resource efficiency highlighted as a business imperative at NCPC-SA Industrial Efficiency Conference 2015

Industry and government came together at this year’s National Cleaner Production Centre of South Africa (NCPC-SA) conference with a united message – the need for better resource efficiency in South Africa, for a more competitive manufacturing industry, has never been as great as it is right now.

The bi-annual conference held in Durban – on 21 and 22 July 2015 - in partnership with the Manufacturing Indaba KwaZulu-Natal, saw rooms fill to the brim at the opening and at discussions on industrial energy efficiency, water footprinting, industrial symbiosis and waste management.

And at each discussion, the need for tangible results and investment in resource efficiency were discussions not just on sustainability and compliance, but on remaining competitive and relevant.

If you missed out or want to revisit the highlights of the conference follow the links below to the presentations and videos.

  • Click here to view the speaker presentations.
  • Click here to download information on the conference and the final programme.

Internationally, energy intensity in manufacturing countries correlates to a logical increase in the national GDP, which reflects the contribution that industry makes in countries like Germany, South Korea and Spain. South Africa has for three decades, however, seen an exponential rise in energy intensity without the correlating GDP increase.

“The manufacturing sector’s contribution to the national gross domestic product (GDP) has declined from 20.9% in 1994 to only 11.5% last year,” said Dr Tebogo Makube, chief director of industry procurement at the Department of Trade and Industry (the dti). This disparity is cause for concern, he said, and shows the need for work to be done in energy efficiency in the industrial sector.

In doing this work – through ground breaking efforts like the NCPC-SA’s Industrial Energy Efficiency (IEE) Project – South Africa’s energy challenges have made it a world leader in industrial energy efficiency.

And the effects has made a difference to the bottom line of 384 companies to date – to the tune of R1.1 billion saved in energy costs in phase one of the project. In the 41 enterprises that reported savings to date, there is a payback period in the almost all cases of less than two years. But it’s not just about paying off the investment.

A local manufacturer, Imraan Bux, who operates a textile mill 100km south of Durban, said the NCPC-SA “highlighted waste opportunities we would not normally see because we were so focused on surviving.”  

Reinet van Zyl, sustainability manager at Arcelor Mittal in Saldanha, explained during the Industry Perspectives panel discussion that her facility joined the IEE project when power costs had forced the facility to the brink of closure, and has now been turned around financially. Their challenge was the perception that energy efficiency is necessary an expensive investment. “The NCPC-SA made the difference by changing not just the way we operate, but also the way we think,” she said.

The Centre is now taking these energy lessons to address the water shortages and risks that industries face. Dr Valerie Naidoo from the Water Research Commission explained that water conservation in manufacturing extends beyond the factory wall. “For every drop saved in the community, it’s a drop saved for allocation in industry and the economy.” It’s also largely a perception challenge, but industry really already has the tools to tackle it. “The industry knows how to benchmark – they just aren’t used to doing it for water use. Business needs to start viewing water as a business risk, not simply something that comes out of a tap.”

Water experts at the conference, as well as delegates, were in agreement that being more water efficient meant industry specifically needs to work with the agricultural suppliers in its supply chain.

Industrial Symbiosis projects – where one business’ waste is another’s raw materials – are now gaining a foothold in Gauteng, the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal, where connections are being made between companies who either produce as waste or require as materials glass, ceramics, plastics, wood and water, amongst others. The Gauteng Industrial Symbiosis project has identified synergies that will potentially save nearly R38 million and divert 298,000 tonnes of waste per annum.

The NCPC-SA has grown from a handful of employees in 2002 to a contingent of nearly 40 dedicated and trained experts across the country in 2015. With its focus now on water, the industrial symbiosis projects and phase two of the IEE project, it aims to continue growing the Centre as the leading African presence in resource efficiency and cleaner production.

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