How to start your own Buy-back Centre

Recycling is one industry that provides income opportunities for entrepreneurs. One of the businesses needed in the recycling chain is a buy-back centre. Many people around South Africa have started their own buy-back centres and are reaping the rewards since recyclables like plastic; paper/cardboard; glass and cans are in large supply currently.

Firstly, what is a buy-back centre?

When you see individuals pulling trolleys or carrying bags filled with plastic; paper; cardboard; glass and/or cans along the road or you see them “waste picking” in bins or at landfill sites, you may have wondered where they are going with all that waste?

These people are called waste collectors (or sometimes “reclaimers”) and they take all the recyclables they collect to a buy-back centre in their area. A buy-back centre is a private business that pays waste collectors for certain grades of recyclables. In addition to buying recyclables, buy-back centres are facilities that also sort and then resell recyclables. One business that a buy-back centre can resell onto is Mpact Recycling (either through their branches or their dealers), as Mpact Recycling requires a constant supply of clean, recyclable waste (also known as post-consumer waste).

Buy-back centres have the support of Mpact Recycling.

When starting your own buy-back centre, you have peace of mind that you have the support of one of the leading recycling businesses in South Africa. Mpact Recycling can assist your buy-back centre with local municipality issues, some equipment in the form of bags, scales and bins, and because Mpact Recycling will buy clean, sorted and graded recyclables from you on a consistent basis, you have a guaranteed customer.

Robertville Buy-back Centre [photo]

What we need from you

Location, location, location! It’s important that you set up your buy-back centre in the footpath of waste collectors, who will visit your business every day with recyclables to sell to you. It’s important that you make plans for a site where you are able to trade and run your buy-back centre. You may have identified the ideal location and now you need to get approval from the municipality. Further to this, by starting small (say from your home) and growing into a formal site for a buy-back centre you will understand the journey your collectors have to go through to get their recyclables to you. However, by owning a buy-back centre you become part of a sustainable business journey. Your buy-back centre will not only help to alleviate litter in communities and in the environment, but it will also enable you to help many people earn a livelihood, which is great for our society.

Want to know how to set up your buy-back centre?

Desmond Moloisi from Mpact Recycling can help you with all questions on how to start a buy-back centre. From location and pricing (what to pay collectors and what Mpact Recycling will pay your business) to advice and tips on how to run a successful buy-back centre, Desmond is the best person to speak to. Email Desmond at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and he will get back to you.

Buy-back centre owners [photo]

Successful buy-back centre owners:

Dudu Feleza

Dudu started her buy-back centre in 2000, and since then has grown her business to 12 permanent employees. Collectors trust her buy-back centre as Dudu is honest and transparent. Dudu appeared in Mpact Recycling’s Clean-Up and Recycle Week campaign in 2021.

Maxwell Ndlovu

Maxwell has grown his recycling business from a small operation in a side-street in Johannesburg to the establishment of two successful buy-back centres in the area, which collect more than 100 tonnes of recyclable material every month.

He also permanently employs 12 people including drivers, administrative assistants, balers, sorters, and cashiers. Between 100 and 200 waste reclaimers deliver waste to his buy-back centres every month, specialising in materials such as plastic PET bottles, and various grades of paper and cardboard.

Maxwell is one of the many entrepreneurs to receive support from Mpact Recycling to start and grow their own buy-back centres. Equipment such as a scale, trolleys, bins, and cages were provided by Mpact Recycling to help increase the volumes of waste at the centres it assists.

Queen Phashe-Boikanyo

Robertville Recycling was started by Queen Phashe-Boikanyo in Roodepoort, Johannesburg in 2001. Today her buy-back centre is a true success story. Queen established it with the help of Mpact Recycling. She identified a location and requested assistance in the form of training and bins from Mpact Recycling. The rest was done by Queen herself because of her strong entrepreneurial spirit and standing in the Robertville community.

They did it, so can you!

If you’re looking for more information, support or advice to open your own buy-back centre, or to become part of Mpact Recycling’s supplier database, visit us here.

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