Cape Town’s innovative waste exchange platform a model for a circular city economy

As discussions this week at the World Government Summit in Dubai focus on the future role of governments and the latest trends and developments in government around the world, the City of Cape Town is using innovation, technology, crowdsourcing and connectivity to enable people to share waste as a resource. Through its upgraded Integrated Waste Exchange (IWEX) platform, it is facilitating a sharing and green economy based on sustainable consumption and production and minimisation of waste.

Cape Town Waste Exchange_ss

The City of Cape Town’s new recyclable exchange platform has been upgraded and is now much easier to use. IWEX has upgraded its online service and has already connected a number of businesses who now make use of each other’s waste products. 

The City of Cape Town’s waste exchange initiative also provides a useful model that other cities around the world could follow to help reduce waste, facilitate sharing of resources and drive a more circular and green economy.

IWEX users can now exchange materials that include batteries, glass, paper, tyres, building waste and e-waste.

This free online system serves as a platform to connect residents in possession of excess waste material with others who have good use for it. The new-look system, which features options such as uploading photos, encourages entities like schools, communities and businesses to exchange waste, allowing them to save on costs and reduce their waste footprint.  

While users can elect to make direct contact with each other independently by browsing listed contact details, there is also the option of doing so through the IWEX system. This has the added benefit of allowing the City to monitor the rate, number, and type of transactions, which provides valuable data. 

Some companies have already successfully used the service to develop happy symbioses, such as international law firm Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyer who linked up with local plastics recycler Westek for a fortnightly collection of plastic milk bottles from their canteen.

Another example is Clover Mama Africa, a community project that creates useful items from fabric off-cuts, who connected with CapeStorm, an adventure clothing brand, for the ongoing supply of some of their raw materials. 

‘These days people find all kinds of reasons to connect over the internet. It has proven itself to be the fastest and most efficient platform for bringing people and services together. It makes perfect sense to provide a convenient bridge to allow one person’s garbage to become another’s gold. The City is constantly looking for ways to reduce volumes of waste sent to landfill sites, and if there is the added benefit of an economic leg up to another party then all the more reason to facilitate those opportunities. It is a true example of a win-win scenario,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Utility Services, Councillor Ernest Sonnenberg. 

The City encourages anyone who is interested to join up with IWEX by following these easy steps:

  • Register at www.capetown.gov.za/iwex. It’s free and only requires a name, e-mail address and contact number
  • Verify your IWEX registration via your e-mail address (a security feature)
  • Browse the latest listings and/or post a listing of waste you want or have to offer
  • Connect with other waste suppliers/requesters. IWEX will assist by sending reminder e-mails
  • Exchange your waste on your own terms

The City and IWEX also support the Western Cape Industrial Symbiosis Programme (WISP), a larger waste exchange programme facilitated by full-time staff at GreenCape, a special purpose vehicle for the Western Cape Government. Everyone registered on IWEX will thus be invited from time to time to WISP workshops, where they have the opportunity to join the WISP programme and be connected with users on the WISP database.

‘Ultimately what we are striving for is a zero-waste society. Waste material is often actually an unused resource, and the City is proud to once again be leading the charge in waste minimisation and its associated opportunities,’ said Councillor Sonnenberg.


2 Responses to “Cape Town’s innovative waste exchange platform a model for a circular city economy”

  1. Lusanda February 24, 2016 at 3:08 pm #

    This is a super article, very informative!

    Businesses making use of each other’s waste products; who would have thought!? But that’s the thing with great ideas – they’re so obvious and have that “why-didn’t-I-think-of-that?” effect once somebody has actioned the idea.

    Thanks for sharing!

  2. Ann Corry February 25, 2016 at 3:35 pm #

    Very interesting . Fantastic service to us all. Thank you Kate.

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