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How waste reduction is creating job opportunities

By Bertie Lourens 12th April 2019 Social Responsibility

We tend to think of waste as…well…exactly what it is -  waste. Squandered, worthless, “used carelessly to no purpose”. But all data is suggesting we should consider waste as an asset, replete with unplumbed purpose and value that can appreciate over time. 

Waste reduction can create all kinds of job opportunities across the industry - and here are some fancy stats to prove it:

According to a 2011 survey done by Sapro and the SA Plastics Federation:

  • Recycling one additional ton of waste would pay R1 095 per ton more in salaries, produce R4 905 more in goods and services, and generate R1.3 million more in sales than disposing of it in a landfill.
  • During the four years of the survey, 28.9 percent of all plastic packaging was recycled by 200 to 220 plastics recycling manufacturers in SA. These companies employed 4 800 people and also created 35 000 indirect jobs that have an annual payroll of R250 million.

Not bad indeed, especially considering that the industry only started gathering momentum since these stats appeared. But exactly what kinds of jobs are we talking about?

Jobs on site

A whole slew of jobs are needed at the source to ensure that we extract the maximum value from your waste streams and transform your liability into cost savings. Employees are needed to physically separate recyclables from disposable waste streams on site; drivers and machine operators are required; staff need to oversee the bailing and exporting process of recyclables at the WastePlan premises. The intricate process of sorting, capturing and generating value from waste requires all hands on deck - and more of them into the future.

The bakkie brigade

You know them well: pickup trucks heavily laden with all kinds of weird and wonderful rubble, portable patchworks of dent and rust that occupy our South African streets. These bakkies are driven by innovators who have seen the gap in the waste economy and collect waste for landfill disposal and recycling in their private capacity. When they connect with companies like WastePlan, they’re guaranteed best pricing on recyclable materials, which naturally incentivises their partnership and the industry in general. The greater value they can extract from their recyclables, the more work we can offer to attract these rising entrepreneurs.

Training and development

Jobs aren’t only multiplied when waste reduction is handled well, they can be upgraded. When a bakkie operator has proven reliable, for example, WastePlan will register the partner as a supplier development candidate. He’ll receive training in entrepreneurship and skills development, along with proper certification, that can fast track his future employment candidacy. Companies like WastePlan also win, as investing in their people is inevitably investing in their bottom line.


It’s satisfying to know that waste reduction not only lightens our carbon footprint, it puts food on the table of South African families everywhere. Keen to know more? Contact us for a gap analysis.

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Bertie Lourens

Author Bertie Lourens

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