From trash to cash

Waste paper recycling is a great opportunity for township entrepreneurs

The recycling industry has become a significant employer delivering great economic and social benefits.

According to the Paper Recycling Association of South Africa (PRASA), recycling work presently provides jobs for around 100,000 people in South Africa, many of whom are entrepreneurs and small business owners who rely on finding and selling sustained volumes of recycled material to earn a living.

“Sustainability is key to our business and this includes contributing to the economy of the country through job creation,” says John Hunt, managing director of the big paper recycling company, Mpact Recycling. “A culture of recycling is emerging within our country which is having a really positive effect on poverty alleviation, enterprise development and economic growth. At the same time, there is the significant environmental benefit of reusing a valuable resource and preventing the landfilling or incineration of used paper.

The recycling industry has become a significant employer delivering great economic and social benefits.

“However, in an industry that is traditionally difficult to break into, our main differentiator is that fact that we provide a guaranteed market for all grades of waste paper.”

To ensure that local recycling entrepreneurs are equipped to succeed and grow, Mpact Recycling is able to provide and install equipment such as paperbalers at its buy-back centres. These machines compress waste paper into cubes or bales, which helps the buy-back centre owners to increase the volumes they are able to process and to reduce the time it takes to do so. The technology also allows the centres to process and store more waste paper, effectively increasing the volume of their sales to Mpact Recycling.

Robertville Recycling, a buy-back centre in Roodepoort, is a true success story. The centre was established by Queen Phashe-Boikanyo some 12 years ago, with the help of Mpact, which assisted with finding a location and providing training. Today she has five full time employees and is supplied with recyclable material by local collectors who scour the surrounding industrial areas for waste paper, cardboard and plastic.

Today Phashe-Boikanyo processes about 100 tons of waste paper and cardboard a month, selling it onto Mpact Recycling. Her successful recycling business has enabled her to put all four of her children through school and the oldest two through university. Her eldest daughter is now a pharmacist and the next daughter will soon graduate as a dentist.

Phashe-Boikanyo is optimistic about the future: “This is a good business with the potential to get bigger, because a lot of the paper that is used in people’s homes and offices is still not recycled. I encourage people to start recycling, because it creates jobs and keeps our environment clean. All you have to do is start separating the paper from the other things you throw away and, once you have enough, bring it to an Mpact buy-back centre."

Donna Noble, Mpact Communications Manager