Insights and advice from the women in recycling.

The company is so serious about fostering diversity that Mpact Recycling’s CEO Bruce Strong introduced company policy that actively promotes gender equality and diversity in the workplace. The value that women offer in a company is visible and visceral, and a Global Institute Report from McKinsey & Company showed how advancing women’s equality can improve a company’s profitability, productivity and increase the global GDP.

Meet the dynamic and dedicated women in recycling.

Meet the dynamic and dedicated women in recycling  [photo]

Doreen Manyatelo, Marketing Representative for the Midrand branch

Environmental issues are close to Doreen’s heart and that is what initially drew her to a career at Mpact Recycling, whose core business focuses on driving the circular economy and environmental sustainability.

Doreen has a BCom in Marketing and her role is to procure recyclables from different sources that generate recyclable material. She says, “This industry is interesting because I have witnessed its different dynamics. One season might experience a shortage of material. Then, a couple of months down the line, there is an oversupply. The market never remains the same.”

When asked about the challenges, Doreen is candid about the dynamics that pricing and competitors bring, however, because she and her team are always on the lookout for any changes, she is positive that they can remain competitive. Indeed, Doreen attributes her improved negotiation and research skills to consistently having her ear to the ground.

The most rewarding part of her job, she says, is that 90% of the suppliers she deals with earn a livelihood from the recycling programme. Doreen predicts that recycling will, in the future, become compulsory for every citizen, but until then, she says education is key, and sorting and separating starts at home.

Her advice to other women wanting to work in the recycling industry, “The industry is open to everyone, and this is an opportunity for us as women to raise our voices and speak up on how to keep the environment clean.”

Kasika Govender, Finance Clerk, Pinetown

Kasika comes from an administrative background and has always looked for more challenging roles and more ways to grow within a company, and the recycling industry did not disappoint. She tells us, “To date it has been the most challenging and interesting career path I’ve chosen.”

Kasika is responsible for the administrative and financial day-to-day tasks for the Pinetown Recycling Branch whilst also giving support to the branch manager. At times, she also helps with admin at the other KZN branches: Richards Bay and Bridge City. Her hard work and attention to detail has earned her two Mpact Recycling Rockstar awards and the company is paying for her studies (she’s busy completing her BCom degree).

When asked if working in a traditionally male-dominated industry has negatively affected her journey at all, she says, “Certainly not. The people I work closely with have offered me all the support, exposure and encouragement needed to get me where I am today.”

Kasika lists the following skills that she’s developed while working at Mpact Recycling:

  • Multi-tasking
  • Industry/product knowledge
  • Professionalism
  • Leadership
  • Customer service
  • Time management
  • Strategic thinking

Kasika emphasises that it’s up to all of us, individuals and communities, to contribute to a cleaner and more sustainable environment, and we can do this by practising the 3Rs – Reduce; Reuse; Recycle.

Kasika offers this advice to other women who wish to join this exciting and challenging industry, “Hard work, dedication and perseverance definitely pays off. Be an apprentice, be always willing to learn and to take on new challenges. Humility opens the door to meaningful relationships and opportunities to learn. Always take initiative and keep a positive mindset.”

She believes that the future for the recycling industry is looking bright. Advances in the processing of paper and plastic are creating major developments in environmental sustainability, and with new innovations, investments and approaches, there is a world of opportunity to learn from and progress in a career in sustainability.

Meet the dynamic and dedicated women in recycling  [photo]

Debbie Botha, KZN Procurement Specialist, Bridge City Branch

Debbie celebrated her 25th anniversary working with Mpact Recycling on the 2nd of February 2023. She started out as a temp receptionist and today is the Procurement Specialist at the impressive Bridge City branch.

Her responsibilities include looking after existing suppliers and sourcing new fibre suppliers.

She has won three Mpact Recycling Rockstar awards and attributes this to her determination and dedication in understanding the business and learning as much as she can. From the time she was a temp, Debbie says she immersed herself, spending a lot of time on the factory floor, learning the different grades of paper waste from the sorting staff. She would ask the accounts ladies and factory manager if she could help them with processing of order numbers, filing, typing of emails and being in contact with service providers who were repairing and maintaining their balers. With this thirst for knowledge and experience, she applied for the Procurement Specialist position in 2002 and was successful!

Debbie admits there are challenges, “You need to grit your teeth and work hard, because it’s not an easy industry to be a part of. But it is one of the most rewarding industries, in terms of people upliftment, that you will ever find.” She says that being able to assist someone, who is less fortunate, especially from the informal sector, and to see them grow, achieve, perhaps even open a buy-back centre, and be in a better position to take care of themselves and their families, is the most satisfying part of her job.

She is excited for the future of the recycling industry, which she insists will never die as so many people are reliant on it. She also believes in the power of recycling as a way to reduce the negative impact of waste on the earth and to slow down global warming.

Debbie says you need the following skills to survive and thrive in the recycling industry:

  • Honesty,
  • Integrity,
  • Trust,
  • Knowledge,
  • Patience,
  • Empathy, to name but a few.

Debbie says her journey through a traditionally male-dominated industry has always been positive and, if ever she did feel intimidated or pushed to the side because she’s a woman, she would “stand up for myself, with respect, dignity and determination”. Her mantra is “Never stop learning” and that has earned her the respect of her colleagues and suppliers.

Moshitadi Salmina Ngubo, Branch Manager, Midrand Branch

Salmina admits that when she first started out in the recycling industry she was embarrassed because she was “working with rubbish”. However, when she heard the stories from the vendors and collectors about how recycling had improved their lives, she became inspired by the industry. One very special story she recalls was from Mr Mohloba who told Salmina that he was able to give his children a better education through income earned from paper recycling.

Salmina started as a petty cash clerk and worked herself up to branch manager, where today she’s responsible for the entire day-to-day operations. Salmina has won two awards, the first for Best Performing Recycling Region and, her personal favourite, the Bob Hunt award which recognised her ability to resolve a tough situation. She’s proud of her success and doesn’t believe gender should play any role in one’s ability to resolve issues.

She’s seen the industry grow and evolve, “I have seen more people over the years resorting to recycling. You can’t drive for 10 kilometres without seeing an informal sorting site or trolley pushers searching for material to recycle”, she tells us.

Skills she’s developed in her job:

  • Being assertive
  • Staying informed at all times
  • Being respectful of people and their different cultures and beliefs.

Salmina explains that the future of recycling is in product innovation and a commitment to sustainability and driving the circular economy, where our natural resources are used over and over again without ending up in the oceans or waste dumps. She hopes that the work she does instils a recycling message to keep our country clean, even her 5-year-old daughter will not allow anything to be thrown in the rubbish bin. However, she says, for people to recycle, more recycling centres and programmes are needed so that it’s easy for people to recycle.

Her advice to other women wanting to work in the recycling industry, “You don’t need money to start recycling, start small, the good thing about recycling is that you can do it from the comfort of your home. It grows from there and the best thing is that all the money goes to your pocket.”

Women in recycling [photo]

Elreshia Benjamin, Procurement Representative, Western Cape

Elreshia started out at Mpact Recycling with a project for the Western Cape Parow branch. She was attracted by the diversity of the industry and also the fact that the recycling industry is a necessity.

As a Procurement Representative, her role requires her to increase and maintain recyclable material volumes from schools and communities in the Western Cape.

Elreshia has also worked her way up in the company. She started with a 3-month contract to assist on a BBB-EE project in 2017 and, in this role, she says she became “a bit of an all-rounder, assisting where she could in the branch for about a year. She then became permanent at the branch as a petty cash office clerk and worked in that position for 2 years. When the procurement position opened up, she applied and got it!

In her five years with Mpact Recycling, Elreshia says she can already see the change in the industry, “There’s greater competition, so many more institutions are becoming recycling conscious, and there’s constant innovation, not just from the Mpact side but the recycling community as a whole.”

She cites the biggest challenge to her job is losing prospective clients to competitors however, she says that the Mpact name holds great value in the recycling industry, and that is what has kept them standing, even when others have fallen.

Elreshia lists these skills as essential for her job:

  • Problem solving
  • Multi-tasking
  • Project management.

Elreshia is passionate about her job because she believes that, at Mpact Recycling, they are truly making a difference. The most rewarding thing for her is creating a culture of recycling with the younger generation. Her advice for anyone wanting a career in the waste management and recycling sector is to be willing to work hard and adapt to the constant changes. “Don’t tell yourself that there is no opportunity in recycling, there always is. You need to love this industry to want to excel in it.”

Nolita Ngcaba, Procurement Representative, Kwa-Zulu Natal

Nolita started her career in a totally different industry and admits she didn’t know much about recycling. She says, “My passion for recycling really started when I joined Mpact Recycling, I love interacting with people, especially children, and educating them about the importance of recycling. “

She joined Mpact Recycling in September 2021 working as the schools and community’s representative for KZN. Her role and responsibilities are to maintain and increase volume of recyclable waste supply from schools and communities. She does this with the help of Ronnie Recycler, Mpact Recycling’s mascot. “Ronnie plays a very important role to educate and create awareness about Recycling, giving more information of types of products that is made from recycling.”

Nolita is proud to have contributed to the following achievements:

  • Achieving over 1,396 tonnes of recyclables from schools and communities
  • In 2021 KZN had 14 schools that qualified for the school’s competition.

She cites the drop-in price rates and the increase in competitors as the biggest challenges in her job. However, she agrees that competition is good and forces them to “do better”. Another problem is that some suppliers have trouble sorting recyclables into different grades because the materials may look similar, however the solution to this is to visit the supplier and provide sorting training, as this also enables suppliers to earn more income.

The most important skills for this position, according to Nolita, are sales and marketing, “I would say I have gained knowledge and methods to promote the brand and communication skills.”

When asked what the most rewarding part of her job is, Nolita said there are two things. Firstly, the relationship with dedicated suppliers who work tirelessly to make a huge difference to the environment and the future of our country. Secondly, she gets a thrill from signing up more schools to join the Ronnie Recycler Schools Programme and rewarding schools and learners for all their efforts.

Nolita’s hope is that recycling becomes the norm as it reduces waste to landfill and keeps our country cleaner. She believes individuals and communities should be educated about recycling, no matter where they come from.

Her advice for women, or anyone, wanting to get a job in the Green Economy, “A career in recycling requires one to take the future of our environment very seriously. Women have an important role to play in recycling, which is more male dominated. I strongly believe that women can really empower one another and have passion for recycling.”

COOKIES: This site uses cookies to enhance your website experience. See our cookie policy for further details.