Small efforts to recycle boxes and paper in 1997 has transformed Bisant Matsi’s life. With the help of Collect-a-Can, he has gone from waste collector to a prominent and successful recycling business owner in Burgersfort, Mpumalanga, inspiring his local community by showing them the value that exists in waste.
Nineteen years ago, Matsi, started his recycling operation with only seven employees. Two years later, he started collecting cans and working closely with the Collect-a-Can, Southern African recovery and recycling organisation.
Collect-a-Can works within various communities, encouraging citizens from all walks of life to assist in their can-collecting efforts. “We teach informal collectors that they can make a living or even start their own ventures by recycling cans,” says Zimasa Velaphi, public relations and marketing manager of Collect-a-Can.
Burgersfort Waste Management has grown into a recycling operation that collects all sorts of recycling material, including paper, glass, steel, plastic and aluminium. The company currently provides employment for 36 people.
Matsi has high aspirational dreams for Burgersfort Waste Management. “In the next five years, I would like to support an employment team of 100 people with my recycling operation, while also encouraging organisations to set up their own recycling stations where we will collect their waste to be recycled,” he says. The local municipality and mining companies in the area already support Matsi’s recycling operation.
Since aluminium cans were introduced into the South African market last year, Matsi experienced significant changes in the Burgersfort community. “People are now realising that aluminium is currently the highest paid recycling commodity. There are no more cans lying around in the area as all the children and women in the town collects aluminium cans to be recycled,” adds Matsi.
Burgersfort Waste Management is an agent for Collect-a-Can in the Burgersfort region to make the weighing-and-paying process easier for both Collect-a-Can and the local community. “The residents in the nearby villages and the schools that are participating in the Collect-a-Can National Schools Competition bring their cans to us for recycling where we pay them according to the weight of cans collected,” he says. The annual National Schools Competition rewards schools with prize money if they collect the most cans.
“It is amazing to see how clean the environment is since we have started with the recycling operation. The people are realising the importance of a clean and beautiful environment and that recycling waste can serve as an income stream for them,” says Matsi.
Matsi would like to challenge all South Africans, especially the unemployed, to start recycling their waste. “People should open their eyes and see that recyclable waste can be a valuable income resource, while recycling also protects our beautiful environment,” he says.
“A good recycler is the friend of all living things,” adds Barry Warren, Pretoria regional branch manager of Collect-a-Can.
For more information visit www.collectacan.co.za. Alternatively connect with them on Facebook and onTwitter.