Perfect model of Good Green Deeds

President Cyril Ramaphosa visits Afriwaste, which recycles plastic waste. /elmond jiyane
President Cyril Ramaphosa visits Afriwaste, which recycles plastic waste. /elmond jiyane

An entrepreneur in East London is turning plastic waste to money and creating a new industry in the Eastern Cape.

Afriwaste CEO Phumeza Ceshemba started her company in 2014 after she was inspired by her mother, who also turned waste into money to put food on the table.

"My mother would buy drums, cut them and then sell them to people in rural areas who use them for water. While observing what my mother was doing, I realised that there is a lot of excess plastic waste which people simply throw away. Here in the Eastern Cape, there is no company that cleans plastic, so I saw the gap in the market," Ceshemba said.

Afriwaste Group buys plastic waste from people and companies . The plastic is then cleaned and processed to produce pellets.

The pellets can be converted to oil by other manufacturers, who then use it to make plastics products such as chairs.

Ceshemba's company now employs 17 permanent staff and over 100 people benefit by selling plastic to her company on a daily basis.

Afriwaste Group has to buy at least 10 tons of plastic a day to produce 8 tons of pellets.

On Friday, her company was visited by President Cyril Ramaphosa during his launch of the Good Green Deeds Programme aimed at encouraging South Africans to clean their environment.

The initiative is copied from Rwanda, where it has yielded positive results and enabled the Rwandan government to win its fight against the filth on the streets.

The government wants to use the Good Green Deeds initiative to grow the waste management and recycling sector, a programme led by the department of environmental affairs.

SA produces 140-million tons a year and most of it ends up in landfill sites.

The government estimates that the waste produced in SA could yield R25bn a year and create thousands of jobs.

Good Green Deeds received a huge boost on Friday as companies pledged R1.4bn in total to support the initiative.

Among the big corporates who pledged their support were SAB, Vodacom, Sasol, Samsung and Coca-Cola.

Pledges include investing in local communities to create new jobs through waste collection and management.

The religious community in the Eastern Cape also pledged to work with the government to clean the environment.

Ramaphosa said SA was sitting on a diamond mine which by cleaning the environment could be realised.

"When we look at a piece of paper or a can on the ground, we should look at it from an economic perspective - as something that contribute to job creation. and us looking after our planet," Ramaphosa said.