by MTHULISI SIBANDA
JOHANNESBURG – PIETERMARITZBURG, the South African city, is previously renowned for producing high quality textile, clothing and footwear, the industries that have declined because of intense competition from lower-priced Asian goods.
It is not an area you would envisage finding the first African company to recycle florescent tubes along with energy-saving and mercury lightbulbs.
E-Waste Africa, officially opened in 2014, was founded here at a time the continent lacked the necessary technology and know-how to implement a commercialised light bulb recycling plant, posing significant dangers to the environment.
Waste treatment technologies mainly focused on reducing the risks associated with the disposal of both general and hazardous waste at a landfill.
Bulbs carelessly disposed release harmful mercury gas which can contaminate land and water sources.
“Bulbs end up in municipal landfill sites despite these not necessarily created to accommodate such waste. This results in mercury leaching into our water systems, posing dire environmental risks,” said the founder of E-Waste Africa, Pravashen Naidoo (35).
A qualified electro-mechanical engineer from the University of Cape Town, Naidoo explained the company had grown in leaps and bounds over the past few years.
“Some three years and six months ago, I was the only employee at the company but it has grown to employ over 20 people and expanded to Gauteng, Cape Town and now Pretoria,” he said at the company’s headquarters in Pietermaritzburg.
The company boasts more than 150 South African corporate clients and recycled over 3 million bulbs and lamps weighing some 600 tonnes using award-winning internationally recognised technology, which consists of the Balcan MP8000 Lamp Recycler.
According to government and E-Waste Africa, the facility represents a significant step forward in the management of e-waste in South Africa.
Besides recycling, the company offers corporates, government institutions and parastatals, a number of options for light bulb recycling which include onsite storage. The products are further beneficiated once recycled.
“While the focus has been on the corporates, there is a need to get through to the households. We need to access the townships,” Naidoo said.
The firm has clinched such accolades as the The Innovation Hub Gap Green 2017 Eskom Business Investment Competition (Trade and Services sector) and The Innovation Hub Gap Green both in 2017.
In 2016, Naidoo was awarded the Young Entrepreneur of the Year at the South African Premier Business Awards as well as the Spirit of Entrepreneurship at the Nedbank Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Business Awards 2016.
– CAJ News