With a desire to clean up Soweto, educate the community and combat the problem of overfull landfills, waste management company Pendowave founder and MD Gordon Nkuta has built a thriving recycling business and has now earned the support of one of the world’s largest polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic converters.
Nkuta started his buy-back centre in Diepkloof Zone 6 in 2017, collecting recyclable materials such as PET plastic bottles, cans, glass and paper from communities and landfill sites. At present, Pendowave collects 20 t of PET plastic bottles alone a month for selling and recycling.
The business provides a regular income for 26 people – six contract employees and 20 waste collectors. However, Nkuta mentions that the only funding he receives is from national recycling specialist PET Plastic Recycling Company (PETCO) and that everything else in the business is self-funded by himself.
According to Nkuta, the aim is to grow to the point where Pendowave will be able to take on permanent staff and move to the next level in recycling, such as manufacturing. “I would like to manufacture clothing material for example, and additionally turn this recycling material into a product that can be sold.”
He points out that this will help as it will move the business to the next level of profitability. More people can be employed and trained and the community can be educated in return for their buy in.
Last month, Pendowave took another step in the right direction when PETCO, and PETCO member and packaging solutions company Alpla South Africa handed over supporting infrastructure worth over R200 000 to further Nkuta’s vision.
The support includes a R150 000 baling machine from Alpla plus equipment donations in the form of a branded trailer, signage and bulk bags from PETCO.
“Having a baling machine simply means progress and profitability. It helps with reducing the loads done and also helps with increasing profit margins. The trailer will also help tremendously as it makes collection easier than when only using a bakkie. It also enables us to make more collections in a reduced amount of time,” Nkuta says.
He mentions that companies like PETCO and Alpla are extremely important as they assist in pushing a dream and creating employment by empowering small, medium-sized and microenterprises like his.
PETCO collections and training project manager Belinda Booker says the partnerships between the national industry body and industry players like Alpla are key in unlocking meaningful strategies to address waste reduction in South Africa.
“By sponsoring equipment, we help small businesses to grow in a sustainable manner and increase the quality and quantity of their PET collections, which, in turn, helps us to achieve our recycling targets.”
Booker says PET recycling makes a meaningful contribution to the national economy by stimulating job creation, alleviating poverty and promoting cleaner communities.
Alpla’s transformation head for sub-Saharan Africa Wilma Mahomed says as a leading global plastic packaging producer, the company is acutely aware of its responsibility to support recycling. In doing so, the company ensures that the products it makes are recyclable and that it incorporates recycled content wherever possible.
“We know that in South Africa recycling occurs in a much more entrepreneurial environment than in developed markets. Therefore, supporting emerging recyclers with capital equipment serves a double purpose, in that it not only supports the recycling of plastic packaging but is also an enabler for small business development,” Mahomed concludes.