Press releases

Waste management operation spreads positive environmental message in Joburg’s inner city

Environmental educators at Okuhle Waste Management Services have reached out to 5,200 households in Joubert Park and Hillbrow to talk about the social and economic benefits of recycling and creating a cleaner, more beautiful environment.

Maxwell Ndlovu, founder and MD of Okuhle, says his company was contracted by Pikitup to clean streets in Joubert Park and Hillbrow in March this year. “In addition to cleaning the streets, we identified alleyways that had become dump sites and cleaned them up.”

To ensure as little refuse as possible goes to landfill, the Okuhle team separates the recyclables into paper, cardboard, liquid cartons, and PET waste streams. These are then supplied to South Africa’s leading recycling company, Mpact Recycling, on a daily basis. Okuhle is paid per tonne which, in turn, allows it to create work for waste pickers, who bring their recyclables to Okuhle.

When Ndlovu and his team noticed that people began littering or dumping as soon as the streets were cleaned, they decided to brainstorm ideas on how to tackle the problem.

To date, six specially-trained Okuhle educators have taken their environmental and recycling messages to thousands of households in Joubert Park and Hillbrow, and they intend to take it to thousands more. They also talk to people in high traffic areas such as their local taxi ranks during peak periods.

Ndlovu decided that speaking to adults was not enough. “The younger you start the education process, the better. I wanted to reach out to the children because they are the future of our country, the agents of change.”

That’s when the idea for a mascot – Kuhle – emerged. “We wanted to put some fun into how we imparted our messages. Now Kuhle goes to schools and chats to children about the importance of a cleaner, healthier environment, the steps they can take to keep it that way and the opportunities that exist for people in the waste industry,” says Ndlovu.

The use of the word Okuhle is important. It means ‘beautiful’ in Zulu, which is what Ndlovu’s company is all about. “We are passionate about creating a clean, safe, sustainable and beautiful environment for our communities in South Africa.”

Ndlovu says the response to the awareness campaign has been positive. “People are beginning to realise the benefits of a cleaner environment. Dumping has reduced and more people are recycling their waste. In addition, several people have begun to make money by collecting recyclables and taking them to buy-back centres such as ours.”

He says Okuhle’s success and ability to win the Joubert Park/Hillbrow cleaning contract is largely due to its relationship with Mpact Recycling. “Five years ago, Mpact assisted me in getting the buy-back centre off the ground by supplying us with baling machines to compress plastics and containers as well as cardboard. They continue to support us every step of the way. This has also allowed us to create more jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities.”

Desmond Moloisi, Mpact Recycling Business Development Officer, says Okuhle is an excellent example of how SME development can be stimulated in the country, in line with government’s NDP 2020 vision for poverty alleviation and environmental sustainability. “Okuhle is an incredible success story. The new contract it has secured is likely to see the amount of recyclable material it supplies to Mpact increases every month.”

Alan de Haas, Gauteng Regional Manager, Mpact Recycling says Okuhle is one of many buy-back centres around the country that Mpact supports. “Okuhle’s efforts to educate the communities it operates in dovetail with our goals to drive awareness among South Africans to raise the overall level of recycling, reduce waste to landfill and contribute towards sustainable job creation.”

Notably, Mpact received an award for its support of the buy-back centre in Johannesburg and in particularly the Denver area. “We are particularly grateful to the dedication demonstrated by Desmond Moloisi, who has lead these support efforts since inception,” concludes de Haas.

About Mpact:

Mpact is one of the leading paper and plastics packaging businesses in southern Africa, listed on the JSE’s Main Board in the Industrial - Paper and Packaging sector.

The Group has leading market positions in southern Africa in recovered paper collection, corrugated packaging, recycled-based cartonboard and containerboard, polyethylene-terephthalate (“PET”) preforms, recycled PET (“rPET”), styrene trays and plastic jumbo bins. These leading market positions allow Mpact to meet the increasing requirements of its customers and achieve economies of scale and cost effectiveness at the various operations.

Mpact has 42 operating sites, of which 21 are manufacturing operations, in South Africa, Namibia, Mozambique and Botswana. Sales in South Africa account for approximately 90% of Mpact’s total revenue for the current year while the balance was predominantly to customers in the rest of Africa.

As at 31 December 2016, Mpact employed 4,998 people. (December 2015: 4,467 people)