National Cleaner Production Centre: Helping businesses use resources more efficiently

Submitted by: Margaret McKenzie, Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The National Cleaner Production Centre (NCPC) offers a range of fully subsidized services to companies in South Africa that wish to adopt Resource Efficient Cleaner Production (RECP) says Gerswyn McKuur, National Programme Manager of the NCPC, speaking at a breakfast event in Durban.

The NCPC was established over ten years ago by the South African Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to promote water, energy and material efficiency as well as waste management in companies using the RECP methodology. The objectives of the NCPC include the improvement of industrial competitiveness and the promotion of environmentally sound business practices. The NCPC is hosted by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).

One of the key services that the NCPC offers to companies are in-plant RECP assessments that result in a range of implementation recommendations. McKuur explains that the assessments are important as they help companies understand their existing resource use, “We go to many companies who don’t know what their electricity bill is, they don’t know what their water bill is.  So if we don’t know these things about our organisation, how do we expect to improve them? ”

The NCPC has done over 300 assessments for companies which identified potential savings in excess of R178 Million. “Through the general RECP methodology not only on the energy side, but also the water side and material side there are large gains to be made,” says McKuur.

Based on the experience of the NCPC assessments the two key areas where the most savings can be made by companies are improved compressed air efficiency and operational changes.  With regards to operational changes McKuur explains that this refers to “things people can do on a day-to-day basis without investing”.  To illustrate the scale of potential benefits that can be achieved through operational changes McKuur highlights the experience of an Arcelor Mittal plant that implemented an energy management system with support from the NCPC.  Over the two year period the plant achieved savings of over R170 million rand, mostly as a result of no or low cost interventions. “I cannot emphasize more [than enough] that even without going into massive investment there are opportunities to save jobs, to keep businesses afloat by just doing simple things,” says McKuur.

While considerable savings can be achieved with limited investment, McKuur indicated that the NCPC recognises that at some point companies may need to access financing to implement RECP recommendations. As a result the NCPC also provides support to companies to access incentive mechanisms that currently exist in South Africa.  In particular the NCPC helps companies apply for funding under the DTI’s Manufacturing Competitiveness Enhancement Programme (MCEP) that has a specific allocation for the implementation of green technology and resource efficiency. McKuur estimates that over the next four years approximately four billion rand will be available through the fund.

Any business operating in the eight focus sectors of the NCPC can apply for support says McKuur. However, he emphasises that companies need to be willing to get involved in RECP and to implement the recommendations that arise from their initial assessment.  The eight focus sectors of the NCPC are:

  1. Agro-Processing
  2. Automotive
  3. Commercial Buildings
  4. Chemicals, Plastics & Pharmaceuticals
  5. Clothing, Textiles Leather & Footwear
  6. Hospitality & Tourism
  7. Metal Fabrication
  8. Pulp & Paper

For more information go to the NCPC website.

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Margaret McKenzie