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Why we choose to reduce waste, not just remove it

By Bertie Lourens 28th March 2019 Waste Management


Recently we had a cyber sit down with our KwaZulu Natal Sales person, Herman Steenkamp. We were curious about waste reduction in particular - what are the real incentives in reducing it, as opposed to just moving waste? This is what he had to say: 

How has waste management been handled up until now?

Herman: In the traditional sense, a waste company used to make their money by taking waste to the landfill. So the more waste transported, the more money you make. On the disposal side, when a company owns a landfill, they charge per tonne for the disposal of waste. If they don’t own a landfill and rather use a municipal landfill or privately owned landfill, they add a markup to the client. So again, there’s financial incentive in maximising waste.

And how is WastePlan’s approach different?

Herman: We’re a completely different model. Waste removal is actually not our business model at all. In fact, we don’t make money by throwing things away - we make money by not  throwing things away. We minimise waste to landfill and maximise the non-disposal of waste, and our profit is determined by how much of that waste we can turn into a recyclable commodity.

So in essence, through recycling, you’re exchanging cost for income to a client?

Herman: Exactly. So we turn a company’s recyclables into cost saving opportunities. But we also reduce costs by evaluating and improving on the way their non recyclable waste is disposed. Let’s say the company uses a skip. Firstly we’re lessening that daily load to landfill, so we won’t have to empty the skip as often. Then we also look into cheaper  more affordable alternatives for disposing of the waste (maybe a bigger skip that will bring down transport costs?)

Explore the difference between recycling and non-recycling with our Infographic.

And in today’s economy, cost reduction is key…

Herman: That’s right - especially when you think about the country's high inflation rates today. 100% of the costs used to manage your waste (costs like equipment rental, staff, transport, etc) are exposed to inflation. But when you reduce those costs, you reduce the amount of your budget vulnerable to these high inflation rates.

The point is - waste disposal is exposed to high inflation due to landfill cost and transport cost increasing at a higher rate of inflation than other costs. So by spending your current waste budget differently (by sorting and recycling) you slow down the future cost increase of waste management.

And are you hopeful for the future of South African waste management, based on what you’re seeing?

Herman: Definitely. What I’ve seen is, the more you recycle and the more waste you divert from landfill, the better your chances of keeping waste management costs in check while reducing your environmental impact.

The return on Investment with our waste reduction service sees many clients earning a higher rebate than what our services cost them.

Find out how you can benefit from the same

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Bertie Lourens

Author Bertie Lourens

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