Many waste collection initiatives pioneered by organisations and corporates have sprung up and disappeared in Harare over the years. Unfortunately many of these initiatives failed due to sustainability issues.
Recycle Today is one of the few waste collection initiatives that is still operational after starting in 2011. According to managing director Dickson Makombera, Recycle Today collects waste for recycling purposes. Makombera explained to Harare News that the establishment has managed to survive because of good operational methods.
“There is need to push volumes and establish cordial relations with communities and corporates for one to be successful in waste collection. We started off collecting cans only, but we have since moved into PET bottles, glass, cardboard, and other types of paper. Our workforce is comprised of 28 full-time employees and more than 500 waste pickers who we buy waste from,” said Makombera.
Makombera revealed that the company collects 300 tonnes of cardboard, 60 tonnes of PET bottles, 500 tonnes of glass, and 30 tonnes of cans each month for export to South Africa where there are more advanced recycling firms.
“Our plan is to build a waste energy plant in the future. We are also working on an initiative with council and other recycling organisations to establish ward-based waste collection centres. So far, we have already established one waste collection centre in Sunningdale,” revealed Makombera.
The company gets most of its support from the Delta Corporation and the Environmental Management Agency (EMA). But there are many challenges. Makombera explained that there is a need for mind-set change in terms of waste management.
“People do not understand the value of separating waste at source. The Pomona dump fire disaster could have been avoided if people were practicing separation at source. You find that 70% of waste going to Pomona is bio-degradable while 25% is recyclable. This means only 5% of Harare’s waste should be at Pomona,” explained Makombera.
Besides collecting waste for business purposes, Makombera added that his organisation has a passion for the environment and says the company was operating as a way of taking care of the environment.
“People are always quick to blame others when things go wrong. But I believe that it is everyone’s responsibility to take action. We are the ones who litter and it should be upon us as residents to make sure that our environment is clean,” said Makombera.
As a parting shot, Makombera had some advice for residents, “Keep in mind the fact that if we do not control waste, the waste will control us. When waste controls us it is usually in a bad way so people should take responsibility early.”
Image: Dickson Makombera, Managing Director of Recycle Today.