Waste management entrepreneurs are creating employment and drastically decreasing garbage that ends up in landfills.
Wilma Williams is one such entrepreneur; her Mpumalanga-based company, Crown Recyclers, buys recyclable rubbish from communities and waste pickers.
As a woman, she is shattering myths about only men running this industry.
Waste management entrepreneurs have a large beneficial influence on society, since they not only generate employment but also considerably reduce land pollution.
Williams’ business in Emalahleni is said to contribute to the growth of the local economy and help put food on the table for workers.
“Waste pickers told me that over the years with their income they have been able to build homes, and others have bought bakkies and started recycling businesses,” said Williams.
Crown Recyclers’ garbage pickers are mostly elderly women over the age of 35, but some are younger.
Waste pickers make money by collecting recyclable items from the streets and selling them to the recycling business. This company also aids in keeping their neighbourhood clean.
It now employs 21 people, and when necessary, hires casual labour. Williams feels her company has had a measurable positive influence on communities.
She is helping to lower South Africa’s high unemployment rate while also reducing the amount of rubbish that ends up in landfills by creating jobs.
According to the Department of Environmental Affairs, garbage pickers gather 80-90% of recycled post-consumer packaging and paper in South Africa, saving municipalities up to R750 million in landfill space each year.
She was still young and had no interest in the business when her late father established it in 2006, beginning operating from their family home’s garden.
This changed as she witnessed the firm expand from their yard to two factories in Kinross.
“Over time as I helped my father, I came to love the business. Seeing how many jobs were created and what this meant to their families, inspired me to work harder.”
After her father died in 2015, she took over the company the following year.
She claimed that several men asked to buy the business because they did not believe she could succeed after her father died. Williams opted to ignore them and concentrate on operating the company herself.
Crown Recyclers now gathers rubbish from construction sites and waste pickers and transports it to their facility, where it is processed by employed sorters before being bailed and compressed and shipped to recycling plants.
The waste is collected from local companies and schools, and they have an ongoing garbage collection contract with Sasol.