Finding work through rubbish


After two years of looking for a job, Bloekombos resident S’khumbule Nqabeni put aside his frustrations and set about becoming an entrepreneur in the recycling industry.

Mr Nqabeni, 20, says he saw an opportunity in what others turned their noses up at – rubbish, or rather recyclable rubbish that others didn’t see the value in and threw away, including plastic, cardboard, paper, glass, metal, electronics and tyres.

He chose recycling realising the world is becoming more conscious of the impact of waste on the environment.

He believes selling scrap at scrapyards is an outdated way to make some money. So, late last year, while reflecting on his family’s dire situation, he met a recycling agent who taught him about recycling and introduced him to Kraaifontein WastePlan, a waste management company, about a kilometre from his home.

But the business has something of a stigma attached to it, as Mr Nqabeni soon discovered. At one stage, he says, his own mother, Nomawethu Nqabeni, was worried about what the community would say and she once tried to talk him out of working in the recycling business.

But determined to make a go of things, Mr Nqabeni decided to forge ahead. He taught his mother the importance of recycling and convinced her how it would help the family. Now the money he makes from the business supports his mom and his two younger siblings.

Ms Nqabeni said her son’s venture had proved to be a “blessing in disguise”, because he could help with things at home now that she was unemployed. She said her son’s influence had also rubbed off on the community, and he had convinced several people to join his recycling efforts.

“Even the neighbours have come out to support him. They come and drop their materials for him,” she said.

“At WastePlan, they taught me everything, including the amount of waste to bring,” Mr Nqabeni said.

His biggest challenge is that WastePlan sticks to a strict policy of only accepting recyclables in truckloads – his backyard is filled with what he has collected. Not only does he need more storage space, he needs a vehicle big enough to move the recyclables.

WastePlan had been helping Mr Nqabeni with delivering his recyclables since October last year but they’ve since withdrawn the service.

He approached several companies to help him with his loads, but with limited success. And now his next load is almost ready to be picked up to be sold. But hiring a truck could cost him more than he earns from the recycling.

Kraaifontein WastePlan spokeswoman Tina Krynauw confirmed the company had been helping Mr Nqabeni because of his circumstances but stopped as he did not have an adequate site where its trucks could pick up the recyclables. She said WastePlan was working on a plan to educate Mr Nqabeni more about recycling.

* Anyone interested in helping the Nqabeni family with delivery services can contact him at 073 8223 994 or email