Waste not, want not

He quickly re­alised that re­cy­cling doesn’t stop at pa­per

Finweek English Edition - - Business strategy - JO­HANN VAN ZYL

IF YOU’RE YOUNG and en­er­getic – and in ad­di­tion com­bine your train­ing with a rather un­usual in­ter­est for a young per­son – it’s in­evitable that an un­usual busi­ness will re­sult. Ad­mit­tedly, it won’t be per­fect im­me­di­ately, but it will be mov­ing in the right di­rec­tion.

“De­spite the man­age­ment er­rors that a young grad­u­ate with al­most no ex­pe­ri­ence in­evitably makes, I’d tackle the same busi­ness if I could choose again,” says Justin Need­ham, man­ag­ing mem­ber of Res­o­lu­tion Re­cy­cling, a re­cov­ery com­pany that’s al­ready well known to sev­eral large in­dus­trial groups and other com­pa­nies in and around Jo­han­nes­burg.

Need­ham be­lieves this is be­cause South Africa will be in­creas­ingly forced to plan for the dis­posal of its waste, as the coun­try hasn’t thus far done much in this re­gard. “We still have a throw­away men­tal­ity in SA and very lit­tle at­ten­tion is paid to re­cy­cling. But things are chang­ing rapidly and when the re­cy­cling de­ci­sions are made in the fu­ture, Res­o­lu­tion Re­cy­cling’s name must be part of the so­lu­tion.”

Re­cy­cling is a pas­sion for Need­ham, who only ma­tric­u­lated in 1999 at Michael­house in Bal­go­wan. “Where I thought only of cricket and cer­tainly not of im­por­tant things, such as the pro­tec­tion of the en­vi­ron­ment. In any case, at school we thought the en­vi­ron­ment was the most bor­ing sub­ject when some­one spoke to us about it.”

When he started study­ing at the Univer­sity of Cape Town, he found a course in en­vi­ron­men­tal con­ser­va­tion most in­ter­est­ing. “But I wasn’t there for long and then did a BCom in fi­nance and mar­ket­ing at Bond Univer­sity in Jo­han­nes­burg.”

But the seed had been sown and a mere three months af­ter ac­cept­ing a po­si­tion at Styria En­gi­neer­ing, where he’d been ap­pointed in a mar­ket­ing po­si­tion, he re­signed. “Two friends and I spent a lot of time talk­ing about the re­cy­cling of pa­per and in June 2004 we founded The Pa­per Bin, with the main fo­cus on col­lect­ing and clas­si­fy­ing waste pa­per. In any case, I’d de­cided by then to be self­em­ployed.”

One of the part­ners left af­ter three months to seek greener pas­tures, and Need­ham and the re­main­ing part­ner soon re­alised it would be wise to change the busi­ness into one of­fer­ing an all-in­clu­sive waste man­age­ment so­lu­tion. “That’s how Res­o­lu­tion Re­cy­cling was born. It of­fers a one-stop ser­vice to clients in search of a waste-free en­vi­ron­ment.”

Mean­while, the busi­ness de­vel­oped into three sec­tions aimed at the re­moval and re­cy­cling of waste prod­ucts from in­dus­tries, busi­nesses and res­i­den­tial ar­eas. The waste prod­ucts in­clude pa­per and card­board, plas­tics, metal, glass, ink con­tain­ers, e-waste (com­put­ers, cell­phones and so on) and bat­ter­ies. “Empty ink con­tain­ers are ex­ported and the faulty ones are bro­ken up and the plas­tic and metal parts re­cy­cled.”

Need­ham says that their glass re­cy­cling ser­vice from restau­rants is very pop­u­lar, but there are many other ar­eas that they haven’t even looked at yet. Glass is col­lected from restau­rants on Satur­day morn­ings for re­cy­cling.

The res­i­den­tial re­cy­cling di­vi­sion fo­cuses on the re­cy­clable waste col­lected by Res­o­lu­tion Re­cy­cling from house­holds and com­plexes. The best pos­si­ble sys­tem for each com­plex is planned in con­junc­tion with the man­age­ment of the com­plex.

Need­ham says his com­pany tries to con­sider ev­ery pos­si­ble need and then de­velop ser­vices that of­fer a so­lu­tion. For ex­am­ple, he of­fers a shred­ding ser­vice at the client’s premises or, when large quan­ti­ties are in­volved, it can be placed in a sealed con­tainer and shred­ded at Res­o­lu­tion’s premises in Jeppestown.

“Peo­ple are very con­cerned about con­fi­den­tial doc­u­ments be­ing left ly­ing around, so we is­sue a cer­tifi­cate to guar­an­tee that they’ve been de­stroyed.”

Res­o­lu­tion is also in­volved in re­cy­cling projects with com­mu­nity or­gan­i­sa­tions such as Noah, My School and For­est Town School, to the ben­e­fit of Aids or­phans, schools, com­mu­ni­ties and other groups.

Need­ham, now the sole owner of the busi­ness, says he has ma­jor ex­pan­sion plans. For ex­am­ple, he re­cently ac­quired the pa­per, glass and plas­tic in­ter­ests of a well-known health busi­ness, which will have a 10% in­ter­est in Res­o­lu­tion Re­cy­cling from 1 March. “The en­larged busi­ness will then move to larger premises but will re­main in Jeppestown, for prac­ti­cal pur­poses.”

That will fur­ther in­crease the busi­ness’s turnover, which has al­ready grown by about 700% since its first fi­nan­cial year and now em­ploys a staff of 30. He also plans to ex­pand to Cape Town, prob­a­bly within six months.

“We’d like to de­velop into the main player in re­cy­cling,” Need­ham says. “And along the way we’re help­ing to pro­vide so­lu­tions for the ever-in­creas­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal cri­sis.”

Com­bin­ing his mar­ket­ing skills and his in­ter­est in en­vi­ron­men­tal af­fairs. Justin Need­ham

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