A 24-year-old business school graduate scooped a national Waste Reduction Youth Warrior award for 2019.
On the back of its recent announcement of a 6% year-on-year increase in the recycling of PET plastic bottles, national industry body the PET Recycling Company (PETCO) has unveiled its 2019 recycling champions – people and organisations making strides in sustainability at grassroots level across South Africa.
Limpopo’s sole winner was 24-year-old Rotondwa Musitha, who shares the Waste Reduction Youth Warrior award with Rocco da Silver, 9, of Cape Town.
A business school graduate, Musitha is a young, vibrant, hardworking individual who makes a difference to the environment as well as the country in which she resides.
Working on foot, picking up litter, she collects approximately eight to 11 tonnes of waste per month. As managing director of Trash Converters, Musitha is currently assisted by three employees and plans to expand her work from Limpopo into other provinces.
Describing how she got into recycling, Musitha said that part of her degree course a module on social responsibility and environmental management.
“Through the module content I started to do my own research on recyclable material within the province and realised that less than 2% of all recyclable material in the Limpopo province is actually recycled.
“This meant that there was a gap for waste buy-back centres and an opportunity to offer environmental awareness solutions.
“That is where my passion started. Most people graduate and then move straight into the business world, but that was not for me,” she said.
“I had no capital, just the savings I accrued when I was working and modelling. But now this is my job, this is my pride, picking up rubbish and making a living from it.
“Slowly, but surely, people in my community are seeing the importance of recycling and the environment. That makes everything worthwhile.”
Of being the only Limpopo-based winner of a PETCO award, Musitha said: “It makes me feel great, it helps show us that we have potential to do even better, as well as bring about more awareness in the area we operate in and the province at large.
“Have dreams and don’t let anyone tell you it cannot be done. It can – they may have failed, but you won’t.”
“This award means a lot to us, especially getting recognition from a body such as PETCO that is invested in the work we do and our future growth. It motivates us as a team to continue on the path we are on, as it goes to show that we are on the right track and we are being recognised for the difference we are making in diverting waste from the landfill.”
To others wishing to follow in her footsteps Musitha advised: “Before anything, it is important to do research on the material you want to recycle, who you can sell to and at what cost, not forgetting the area you want to operate in to see if it will be feasible.
“Ensure that you get all the certification required for you to operate but, most importantly, to start collecting, even if you are starting small or at home, it is important that you start and hit the ground running.
“Close your ears to the noise about how it is a dirty job and how you can get an actual job. Just have the drive and you will be fine.”
As a young person, she also had a message for the youth of South Africa: “Have dreams and don’t let anyone tell you it cannot be done. It can – they may have failed, but you won’t.”