A common sight along many quiet suburban streets and busy thoroughfares are hawkers dragging trolleys piled high with flattened cardboard boxes, plastic bottles and waste material that has been salvaged from households, supermarkets and other sources. Often regarded as a nuisance by residents and motorists, the question many people are asking is what happens to this waste material?
These hawkers are in fact a vital element of the recycling industry in South Africa, and in particular, the paper manufacturing value chain. They are en route to recycling buy-back centres where they exchange the contents of their trolleys for payment.
The owners of these buy-back centres are typically small entrepreneurs who make a living by selling the recovered waste paper and increasingly, plastic, on to companies such as Mpact Recycling which use the paper in the manufacture of paper and corrugated packaging.
“We guarantee to purchase all of the recovered paper from about 42 buy-back centres across the country,” says John Hunt, managing director of Mpact Recycling, “The livelihood of both the hawkers and buy-back centre owners is therefore dependent on the volumes of waste paper that they are able to collect and sell.”
Mpact Recycling, a division of Mpact Limited, has a 45% share of the South African paper recycling market and each year collects upwards of 457 000 tons of recovered paper. Mpact is also currently investigating PET recycling opportunities.
Recycled paper is an important component in the manufacture of Mpact’s paper-based packaging products. The group uses 70% of the recycled paper it collects in its paper manufacturing division and these buy-back centres are essential aggregators of waste paper on its journey to Mpact’s paper mills.
To ensure that these entrepreneurs are equipped to succeed and grow, Mpact Recycling has begun installing paper balers at buy-back centres. The first baler has been installed in Chamdor, Krugersdorp, with six more installations planned over the next few months.
These machines compress waste paper into cubes or bales, which helps the buy-back centre owners to increase the volumes they are able to process and to reduce the time it takes to do so. They also allow the centres to process and store more waste paper which increases the volume of their sales to Mpact Recycling.
Once the paper is baled it can be transported directly to the group’s paper mills where previously the loose paper first had to be transported for baling at larger regional buy-back centres owned by Mpact Recycling. The installation of the balers will therefore allow Mpact Recycling to cut out an unnecessary leg of the journey, reducing transport costs and enhancing the viability of the small entrepreneurs running the centres.
Hunt says that these balers also mean that greater volumes of paper can be transported over fewer trips. This reduces the costs of recycling enabling buy-back centres to be established in new areas further from Mpact Recycling's factories.
“Continuing to invest in these small businesses contributes to the sustainable supply of material for Mpact.”
There are a number of challenges in the manufacturing sector such as tough competition, muted consumer growth and rising input costs that have motivated companies like Mpact to seek out more innovative, efficient methods of operating.
“The installation of these balers is just one example of how innovation can bring about small incremental changes that result in meaningful revenue for small entrepreneurs and cost savings for a manufacturing company,” ends Hunt.
Mpact is a leading manufacturer of paper and plastics packaging in Southern Africa. The Paper business is integrated across the recycled paper-based corrugated packaging value chain and comprises three divisions being Recycling, Paper Manufacturing and Corrugated. The Plastics business manufactures rigid plastic packaging for the food, beverage, personal care, home care, pharmaceutical, agricultural and retail markets. Products include PET preforms, bottles and jars; plastic jumbo bins, wheelie bins, and crates; plastic containers for the Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) market; styrene and PET trays, fast food containers and clear plastic films. The Group employs 3,760 people in 32 operations in South Africa, Namibia, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.
To organise office collection for used paper, businesses can contact Mpact Recycling. Depending on size of the company and other requirements Mpact Recycling will either collect used paper or direct the enquirer to the closest drop-off point. For large companies that are paper intensive, bins and bags will be provided and collected by Mpact. Mpact Recycling also offers a confidential shredding service.
FTI Consulting – Strategic Communications
Courtney Chennells +27 (0) 11 214 2404 / +27 (0)82 775 4743
Communications Manager, Mpact +27 (0) 11 994 5500 / +27 (0)76 650 4155