Use-It: You Can Do Amazing Things With Waste!

Every day, 6,000 tons of waste is thrown into Durban landfills: building materials, organic and electronic waste, paper, tires, etc. Most of this waste can be re-used or recycled at a local level to close the loop on the value chain. Use-It, a Durban-based company, aims to identify waste beneficiation in the eThekwini Municipal area that will help to divert waste from landfill and create employment in the green economy. Chris Whyte, managing director of Use-it, shows us how it is essential to understand that waste is the 21st century raw materials.

Every day, 6,000 tons of waste is thrown into Durban landfills: building materials, organic and electronic waste, paper, tires, etc. Most of this waste can be re-used or recycled at a local level to close the loop on the value chain. Use-It, a Durban-based company, aims to identify waste beneficiation in the eThekwini Municipal area that will help to divert waste from landfill and create employment in the green economy. Chris Whyte, managing director of Use-it, shows us how it is essential to understand that waste is the 21st century raw materials.

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Why Use-it was created?

“Use-it was created to achieve two main goals: 1) to divert as much waste as possible from the landfill and 2) to create as many jobs as possible by doing so. We look at all the beneficiation of waste as opposed to just recycling. There are multiple opportunities that we can unpack from all the different waste streams.”

It was created in 2009, how does it work today?

“In 2009 we secured the first funding from eThekwini Municipality. They provide our operational funding and we use some of that funding to leverage additional funding. This allows us to create large scale projects, around building materials, organic waste, composite technologies or electronic waste.”

Could you explain one of your projects?

“If you look at the electronic waste project for example, we have helped to establish a black-owned organization that is able to work with the public sector. They bring computers from the government sector to draw them into a recycling programme. We have helped them to provide the guidelines, procedures, processes, and financing model. Now, we want to develop that project in a much larger scale by creating partnership with national and international initiatives that will draw more funding and create extra capacity.”

What is the positive impact of Use-it?

“For every rand that we have leveraged from public sector funding, we have saved more than a Rand in landfill diversion. Even without looking at all the extra social and environmental benefits like job creation. We have cost the government nothing. We have created whole new economies out of closing the loop of the value chain in waste.”

Can you give three words to describe the spirit of Use-it?

“Innovative, entrepreneurial, passionate.”

What was the biggest challenge since 2009?

“The biggest issue we face is still trying to get people to understand what we do. There is so much interconnectedness in what we do and how we do it which creates misconception.”

“Moreover, we struggle with very restrictive bureaucratic legislative and regulatory controls that are dampening the opportunity of green economic development.”

“Today, many young South Africans want to embark on an entrepreneurial adventure to improve society. Could you give them a piece of advice with your experience?”

“Go green! There are so many opportunities in the green economy that stare us in the face every day. It begins with the small scale ‘mamas’ who are collecting bottles to feed their grand children or pay their school fees, continues right up to the guys who are engaging with enterprise development and funding processing equipment to take them up that next level. At a large scale, corporate sectors spend millions on waste and don’t understand why they are doing it, and yet they can spend their money on what they are saving on waste in terms of real enterprise development.”

A last word?

“Think out of the box! Move away from old mind-sets and old procedures. We need to change our interior mind-set by going green.”

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Interview conducted in June 2014.

Source: SA – the Good News via SparkTour Africa