Tsakane is a township located in Ekurhuleni and home to Ndlazi Recycling and Energy Solutions, a family-run business owned by father and daughter duo, Sipho and Amanda Ndlazi. They’re also members of the National Recycling Forum and Gauteng Waste Forum.
“The time has come where dump sites can no longer fill up as they had before. Doing our research, we discovered that some of the things that are going to the dump site can actually be recycled – your bottles, plastics and papers – and you can actually make money from it,” explains Sipho, who now has 15 employees in his small business.
Ndlazi Recycling is supported by the PET Recycling Company (PETCO), an extended producer responsibility organisation that drives recycling and keeps PET plastic out of the environment where it doesn’t belong. PETCO identifies people who show entrepreneurial spirit and have a passion for cleaning up the environment in which they find themselves. They assist, train, and even play a mentorship role to help grow small businesses.
“We support those businesses as they grow. We may start by simply training people, teaching them how to identify PET plastic and sort it out. When they start doing that and start growing, we may go back and assist them with protective clothing or trolleys. If they get even bigger, we assist with a baling machine because it is not cost-effective to transport loose bottles from one end of the country to another,” says Cheri Scholtz, PETCO’s Chief Executive Officer.
Supporting PETCO is part of The Coca-Cola Company’s commitment to a World Without Waste vision; where the company has committed to achieving 100% recyclable materials in its packaging by 2025, and 50% recycled content in its bottles by 2025.
“By 2030 we aim to collect and recycle 100% of all of our packaging,” explains Luis Avellar, Coca-Cola: General Manager Southern Africa Franchise. “It is a huge challenge, but it is a commitment and we will have to get there. We believe across Africa and in South Africa, specifically, with the PETCO model that leverages the circular economy by supporting the collectors and the recycling industry, we will get there.”
“The most important aspect starts at the beginning with the design of the product. We call it eco-design. If products are compatible with the recycling stream, then they will be recycled. Right at the end is the consumers’ role – not to litter and to participate in separation at source when they can or to drop their products off at recycling centres and to support their informal collector – that’s a real win-win,” adds Scholtz.
PETCO’s impact in South Africa has been undeniable with two out of every three PET plastic bottles being collected and recycled. And through PETCO, the South African Plastics Recycling Organisation (SASPRO) has managed to establish a recycling rate higher than many countries, including the United States. The secret lies in people working together and collaborating.