One’s trash is another’s thriving business

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Township entrepreneur transforms plastic waste into raw materials

As a core focus at this year’s G20 Summit, the need to reduce waste – particularly plastic – as a way to combat climate change is clear. In 2017, the world’s plastics production totalled around 348 million metric tons.[1] While South Africa accounts for less than 0.5% of global plastic production, this still amounts to 1.5 million tons of plastic consumed in South Africa annually[2] and it’s up to both businesses and consumers to take make a change.

Port Elizabeth-based Rhino Manufacturing has found a way to turn this trash into cash. The level 2 B-BBEE company which forms part of the Rhino Group, makes 90% of their product from waste materials, bringing new meaning to the phrase “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”

“We’re very passionate about what we do, and value our contribution towards a greener economy,” says newly appointed Managing Director, Siyabulela Mandla.

Rhino Manufacturing produces high- and low-density pipe, plastic film, packaging, nursery bags and pallet wrap for the construction, automotive and agriculture sectors. The company collects waste from their local industrial clients, private waste collectors, waste management companies as well as communities and municipalities. More than 150 tons of plastic waste is processed per month, saving more than 10 000 cubic metres of landfill space each year.

“We are currently the biggest recycler of plastics waste in Port Elizabeth, which is in line with our circular green economy model that promotes the reproduction, reuse and repurpose of plastic to ensure sure that no waste goes to a landfill,” adds Mandla.

The company has partnered with local farmers through Crop Life South Africa to collect agricultural plastic waste, such as pesticide drums and irrigation pipes.  CropLife is a non-profit industry association that serves and represents responsible manufacturers, suppliers and distributors of sustainable crop protection and public health solutions in the agricultural, public health, non-crop and consumer sectors of South Africa.

“Traditionally, when these items had reached their end of life, they were often burned causing more air pollution. This is no longer the case as Rhino converts the waste plastic into raw material, which is used as input material for manufacturing their products,” he explains.

Mandla refers to himself as a township entrepreneur and is excited at the opportunity to strengthen and grow the business. “The construction industry is currently very depressed in South Africa, so we are focusing on growing our share of the agricultural market by expanding our product range as well as looking at what we can offer the public sector.  Given the explosion in fibre optics in the country, we now also manufacture high density pipes which are used for underground sleeving for fibre optics and are looking at partnerships with fibre optic installers to penetrate this market,” says Mandla.

“We’re proud of what we’ve achieved when it comes to sustainability and limiting the level of plastic waste in the area and will continue to operate with our green objectives at the forefront of what we do,” he concludes.

Siyabulela Mandla is a finalist in the 2019 Entrepreneur of the Year® competition sponsored by Sanlam and BUSINESS/PARTNERS. For more information on the business, please visit the Rhino Group SA website: http://www.rhinogroupsa.co.za/

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