Here's how waste business is helping to curb the amount of plastic in fields, dams and landfill sites

President Cyril Ramaphosa with Phumeza Ceshemba who created 17 jobs through her waste-recycling business in the Eastern Cape.
President Cyril Ramaphosa with Phumeza Ceshemba who created 17 jobs through her waste-recycling business in the Eastern Cape.
Image: Supplied.

East London business woman Phumeza Ceshemba has made a living for herself and dozens of other families from a waste recycling business in Fort Jackson on the outskirts of Mdantsane, Eastern Cape.

Ceshemba, who learned the waste recycling business from her mother, is driven by a passion to protect the environment from harmful toxins.

She started Afri-Waste in 2017 and co-owns it with her husband Thozamile. The plant is a beacon for Eastern Cape’s recycling initiatives, and currently has 17 employees while dozens of other families benefit through spin-offs.

Afri-Waste is a poster child for the black industrialist programme and Operation Phakisa Chemicals and Waste Economy.

The plant was recently visited by President Cyril Ramaphosa, Environmental Affairs Minister Nomvula Mokonyane, Minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Zweli Mkhize, Eastern Cape Premier Phumulo Masualle and various government leaders.

The Eastern Cape Department of Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism reported in its 2017/18 Annual Report that it had finalised five waste management licence applications for waste-recycling initiatives and composting facilities in various regions (OR Tambo, Chris Hani and Amathole districts).

These facilities will promote and improve the rate of waste recycling in the province as an alternative method to waste management, other than disposal of waste in landfills, the department said in its annual report.

Afri-Waste collects and sorts waste plastics including carry bags and plastic bottles. They are washed and turned into raw plastic which can be further processed and turned into other plastic products.

The benefits of the Ceshembas’ business have a ripple effect on various small, medium and micro-enterprises as well as their employees.

“We’ve got a Workers’ Trust that benefits 17 people and over 100 cooperatives and waste pickers also benefit. In addition, we collect from landfills,” said Ceshemba, adding that they are the only company in the Eastern Cape that washes plastic.

She said that funding from the government made her dreams a reality.

Operation Phakisa Chemicals and Waste aims to increase the contribution of the waste economy from R24.3 billion to R35.8 billion and create 70 000 direct jobs and 127 000 indirect jobs.  

-This article was originally published in the GCIS Vuk'uzenzele.

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