WastePlan is a big highly successful company who recycle waste from corporate, industrial and private sources. I thought they might be able to give some guidelines on how to grow a smaller recycling business.
Tina Krynauw, the Puplic Relations head of WastePlan South Africa offered the following understanding of how one could grow one’s green business. She says it’s a question of motivation, heart, if you want, of the desire to recycle waste for the environment rather than for the money because it’s a dirty job.
The founder of WastePlan, Bertie Lourens started off about 12 years back cleaning dirty fishing boats, for which the organic waste was extremely problematic. He was in the boats with his wellington boots and I can imagine the scene, cleaning up rotting fish parts mixed with the reek of diesel and oil, but perhaps that is a bit colorful on my part. The head of the company still works very hands on, getting down and cleaning with his staff to this day.
He started with boats, as said, and offered these clients a waste management contract and slowly got more clients,
and grew that way, through contract acquisition. In the beginning he had to do
all the different jobs involved in running a business himself, as any small
business man does.
Bertie Lourens shows clients that they need to have a system that recycles waste, by giving them two months of free waste management, to see how it works. WastePlan does comprehensive measurement of what comes off the site in terms of recyclables and non recyclables, to show the client that the system does reduce landfill waste and can be implemented with a few adjustments and that it makes economic sense.
Hotels are under enormous pressure not to waste, because of their foreign clients, who are influenced by green issues more than most South Africans. This pressure became especially intense since grading systems such as Green Globe came out, and the global hospitality industry has been attempting to build sustainability into its management systems since the 80’s.(Goldstein and Primlani 2012)
Now I understand why the Mount Nelson has such a developed organics recycling system with compost worms and the Grand West Casino also has a worm recycling plant and a green nursery, when the knowledge of vermiculture in South Africa is not that common.
At first the readiness of the hotel industry to be green seemed a bit strange to me, when there are dirtier industries who do very little about their organic waste. In Germany legislation drove the development of many recycling industries, and knowledge of industrial waste legislation is probably key to the business opportunities in industrial waste.
But back to WastePlan’s client recruitment. They give each client a report on what is coming off their site (for example an hotel) and make recommendations. They also consult as problem solvers. Many factories call them with waste management problems, having particular items they cannot process through normal channels. The answer may be found in many ways, for example through chemical analysis, to determine what can be done with the particular material or to recycle waste through up-cycling. WastePlan recruits street people to do up-cycling, which is the manufacture of new products out of old materials.
Tina started as personal assistant to the managing director at WastePlan in 2009, and has a deep knowledge of how the business opertates. In 2010 WastePlan’s headquarters moved to Gauteng, where signing up new clients grew apace, and in couple of years later they opened up in Durban too.
If you are a looking for ideas on how you could start a business and fit into the recycling industry, the page on what WastePlan does, may be useful.