“I want to protect the environment and create jobs at the same time”
Updated: Aug 26
How a start-up recycling company supports its community
Coming from a family of entrepreneurs, Thabiso Hlongwane always knew he wanted to go into business. As soon as he finished matric, he started looking for opportunities.
“I wanted to make a positive change while creating a profitable business. I identified an opportunity in recycling. There is money in helping companies dispose of their recyclables. I started by making agreements with companies in my area of Kempton Park to collect their cardboard. The name Greener Pastures came from a sermon at our church: our pastor reminded us that we are all looking for greener pastures.”
After being able to finance his first bakkie, the business could finally grow. “That was our first break: it allowed us to service bigger customers and bigger volumes”.
The next milestone came when he secured contracts for waste management of large shopping malls, such as Alex Mall and Mall of Thembisa. Greener Pastures offers them an integrated service for management of all their waste streams.
“We collect the recyclables, and even the organic waste for composting. The non-recyclable waste we take it to landfills. Our clients pay us a monthly fee, and on top of that, we still make money out of the recycled materials.”
Thabiso is proud that these contracts have been renewed year on year since 2017, proving that the clients are satisfied.
Doing well while doing good
Growing a profitable business is a source of motivation for Thabiso. “One the great joys is to see the change we make in our team’s lives. When someone tells you that payday allowed them to buy shoes for their kids. One of our supervisors has transformed his shack into a brick house. That is the impact we want to make in our communities.”
In the meantime, Thabiso continues to grow the company professionally. “We now have 3 vehicles and employ 15 people. We successfully applied for certificates to handle medical and hazardous waste. This allows us to collect used oil cans from Engen garages and make sure the oil and the metal cans get recycled.”
A next step is Waste-to-Energy. “If we want to reach a #ZeroWaste world, we must come with new solutions. We want to invest in a plant that turns plastic into fuel. This technology is available in South Africa and we want to bring it to Gauteng.”
The sky is the limit for Thabiso, and his success speaks for itself. “If we all try to do well by doing good, we can change the world one step at a time.”
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