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Aug 17, 2012

Organisation says efficiency initiatives a success

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The National Cleaner Production Centre of South Africa (NCPC-SA) reports that its Resource Efficiency and Cleaner Production (RECP) programme and the Industrial Energy Efficiency Improvement (IEE) project have achieved some successes since their inception.

The programmes were established to reduce the environmental footprint and increase the competitiveness of industry by identifying areas where energy, water and raw-material efficiency can be improved. Through a process of in-plant assessments, the NCPC-SA has identified potential savings for industry of over R210-million in the past three years alone.

Companies can save up to R500 000 immediately, simply by making changes to the way they do business, says NCPC-SA director Ndivhuho Raphulu.

IEE
The IEE project was introduced in 2010 to contribute to the sustainable transformation of energy use practices in the South African industry. It is also aimed at enhancing national energy security, while promoting job creation and reducing carbon dioxide emissions.

“The project seeks to actively involve a number of key industries that were identified for their potential to ensure significant reductions in the overall energy consumption of the country,” adds Raphulu.

The participation options range from three-day audits for small and medium-sized enterprises as a starting point to improved energy efficiency to becoming demonstration plants where measurable and verifiable impacts of recommended energy system optimisation interventions may be showcased.

Raphulu says the project is a collaborative initiative between the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the Department of Energy, the Swiss Secretariat for Economic Affairs and the UK Department of International Development.

The United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (Unido) is the implementing agent for the initiative.

“For the RECP programme, the NCPC-SA uses funding it receives from the DTI to assess companies’ production systems to identify potential savings options, increasing their profitability through cleaner production,” says Raphulu.

He states that skills development is important for the implementation and sustainability of RECP methodologies and techniques. To address this, a ‘studentship’ programme is now in its second year, equipping previously unemployed postgraduate students with scarce green skills.

The IEE project offers training workshops, which have, until now, been facilitated by internationally acknowledged experts through Unido.
“More than 1 500 consultants and company representatives have undergone various levels of training in the areas of energy management and energy systems optimisation,” says Raphulu.

RECP training workshops are presented across the country at least once a year.

Challenges
Meanwhile, he notes that, despite the success achieved since the implementation of the IEE and RECP projects, the NCPC-SA realised that most of the companies that benefit from the programmes are part of formal business structures.

“Small companies do not currently have the same level of participation that the bigger companies have,” he says.

However, Raphulu states that the NCPC-SA has devised a plan to raise awareness among smaller companies, which would enable them to achieve the same level of expertise as bigger companies.

Another issue is that financial considera- tions and the availability of relevant technolo- gies locally are also barriers that prevent the full implementation of RECP recommendations, which are required to improve the cost-saving benefits of the RECP programme. Government incentives, such as the Manufacturing Compe- titiveness Enhancement Programme will help to address this challenge.

Future Plans
Raphulu notes that, with the DTI, the NCPC-SA is planning a green industries event for November.

“We want to invite members of the private and public sectors to meet to discuss issues facing industry in the implementation of green interventions, and to learn from the successes and case studies of others,” says Raphulu.

Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies will address the conference.

At local and provincial government level, the NCPC-SA plans to increase awareness and provide training for officials to help companies deal with environmental and sustainability challenges.

To this end, the NCPC-SA is negotiating with organisations such as the Gauteng Economic Development Agency to become involved in facilitating skills development programmes.

Background
The NCPC-SA is a key industrial sustainability programme of the dti and hosted by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research.

The services of the NCPC-SA are, at this stage, fully subsidised and made available to participating companies at low or no cost to enable industry to proactively comply with environmental policy, as well as the regulatory frameworks and standards, before they become legislated.

Currently, the NCPC-SA focuses on eight priority sectors identified in government’s Industrial Policy Action Plan (IPAP).

The sectors are based on job creation, econo- mic growth and market competitiveness.

The green industries sector is also addressed by the IPAP, which focuses on waste recycling and remanufacturing.

Edited by: Chanel de Bruyn
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