A desire to clean up his beloved Soweto, educate the community and combat the problem of overfull landfills has seen Pendowave founder Gordon Nkuta build a thriving recycling business and now earn the support of one of the world’s largest PET plastic converters.
Nkuta started his buy-back centre in Diepkloof Zone 6 in 2017, collecting recyclable materials such as PET plastic bottles, cans, glass and paper from communities and landfill sites. At present, Pendowave collects 20 tonnes of PET plastic bottles alone per month for selling on for recycling.
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The business provides a regular income for 26 people – six contract employees and 20 waste collectors. According to Nkuta, who is also managing director of the company, the plan is to grow to the point where Pendowave will be able to take on permanent staff and move to the next level in recycling, such as manufacturing.
“I have spent all my life in Soweto and it was easy for me to see that there was a need for education and awareness. The existing government service was not coping when it came to cleaning the area and educating the community, thus we took it upon ourselves to assist and create employment at the same time,” said Nkuta.
On Tuesday (August 27), the company took another step in the right direction when the national PET plastic recycling company, PETCO, and PETCO member ALPLA South Africa handed over supporting infrastructure worth over R200,000 to further Nkuta’s vision.
The support includes a R150,000 baling machine from ALPLA plus equipment donations in the form of a branded trailer, signage and bulk bags from PETCO.
Outlining what the donations mean to his business, Nkuta said: “Companies like PETCO and ALPLA are extremely important as they assist in pushing the dream and creating employment by empowering SMMES like myself.
“Having a baling machine simply means progress and profitability. It helps with reducing the loads done and also helps with increasing profit margins.
“The trailer will also help tremendously as it makes collection easier than when using a bakkie alone. It also enables us to make more collections in a reduced amount of time.”
PETCO collections and training project manager Belinda Booker said partnerships between the national industry body and industry players like ALPLA were key to unlocking meaningful strategies to address waste reduction in South Africa.
“By sponsoring equipment, we help small businesses to grow in a sustainable manner and increase the quality and quantity of their PET collections, which in turn helps us to achieve our recycling targets.”
Booker said PET recycling made a meaningful contribution to the national economy by stimulating job creation, alleviating poverty and promoting cleaner communities.
ALPLA’s head of transformation for Sub-Saharan Africa, Wilma Mahomed, said as a leading global plastic packaging producer, the company was acutely aware of its responsibility to support recycling, ensure that the products it makes are recyclable and that they incorporate recycled content wherever possible.
“We know that in South Africa recycling occurs in a much more entrepreneurial environment than in developed markets. Therefore, supporting emerging recyclers with capital equipment serves a double purpose, in that it not only supports the recycling of plastic packaging but is also an enabler for small business development.”