Friday, 21 April 2017 08:28

Going green saves SMMEs money

Issues of resource efficiency and cleaner production do not often top the agenda of small, medium and micro-sized enterprises. Instead, these enterprises are often consumed by short-term pressures to remain profitable and pay overheads. The European Union-funded, SWITCH Africa Green project offers these enterprises an opportunity to improve their bottom line while building a sustainable business that is moving the country to a low-carbon economy.


The SWITCH Africa Green project equips small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) with the skills and knowledge to apply resource efficiency and cleaner production methodologies systematically and in an integrated approachto the industrial processes and functions of companies.


Victor Manavhela, Gauteng Regional Manager of the National Cleaner Production Centre South Africa (NCPC-SA), says that this contributes to a reduction in the amount of waste and environmental pollution produced and that companies can then generate additional revenue by saving resources.


Manavhela says, “We do not offer SMMEs money to fund their activities, but instead allocate skilled resources that can identify where money can be saved within the company. By so doing, we help form profitable, sustainable businesses that create jobs and reduce poverty.”


Other benefits SMMEs reap from SWITCH Africa Green include keeping track of materials; identifying, quantifying and analysing all significant materials inputs and outputs in business systems; enabling the reuse and reduction of virgin materials and informing policymakers on policy reforms.


The project is implemented by the United Nations Environmental Programme in six pilot countries, namely Burkino Faso, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, South Africa and Uganda. Project partners include United Nations agencies, notably the United Nations Development Programme and the United Nations Office for Project Services, the African Union Commission, the African Roundtable on Sustainable Consumption and Production and the African Development Bank.


Each country has a selected focus area. In South Africa, the project is implemented by the NCPC-SA in collaboration with the Department of Environmental Affairs for strategic leadership and coordination of the project.


The NCPC-SA uses industrial symbiosis as the vehicle to implement SWITCH Africa Green. Industrial symbiosis is an association between two or more industrial facilities or companies in which the wastes or byproducts of one become the raw materials for another. “We capacitate SMMEs to form synergies in manufacturing, industry and agriculture. In every production process, there will be waste, hence the need to implement industrial symbiosis, where the waste or by product of one company can be reused and recycled, in the production process of another company.”


Through the NCPC-SA Industrial Symbiosis Project, AJ Policycling and Lancet Laboratories diverted 20 tonnes of waste from landfill with a combined saving of R263 800. “AJ Policycling also formed a partnership with Envirosev Waste Management and together diverted 150 tonnes of waste from landfill and saved R172 800 in virgin material,” says Manavhela.    


The NCPC-SA is a programme of the Department of Trade and Industry hosted by the CSIR.


SMMEs that would like to find out more on how to participate in either SWITCH Africa Green or in the Industrial Symbiosis Project can send an email to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.or visit:


Biofuels is one of 20 companies that attended the SWITCH Africa Green workshop in Limpopo this year. This incubator provides an illustrative platform on the manufacture of biofuels for small and medium enterprises. By collaborating with the NCPC-SA, Biofuels introduced a number of companies to the SWITCH Africa Green Project. The next step in the journey for Biofuels is to undergo an assessment that will help the incubator determine where they can save costs and also identify other synergies.