Waste not, want not
He quickly realised that recycling doesn’t stop at paper
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