Cleaning up to earn a living

Lindokuhle Nyama, 25, and Thembalethu Dube, 30, have teamed up to start a small recycling initiative.

Two young men from Bhongweni in Khayelitsha have started a small recycling company which has enabled to them to make some money as Covid-19 devastates the economy – and keep their community clean.

Times were tough. Waste was piling up. So Lindokuhle Nyama, 25, and Thembelathu Dube, 30, decided to start a recycling initiative as there are none that operate in the area.

Lindokuhle Nyama, 25, sorts out the rubbish they have just collected.

Mr Nyama who is a fourth year law student at the University of Western Cape, said they were collecting plastic bags and cardboard.

He said they started this late last year and had been collecting recyclables from the spaza shops in their community and other shops at Thembani shopping centre.

Mr Nyama said recycling helps by reducing the amount of waste going to the landfills and also helps to keep the area clean and safe for those that live there.

As young people, he said, they wanted to be game changers in their community. “We needed to find a way where we could make money but also impact the community positively and this how this company was born.

“Before the national lockdown, we would go to town and to look for jobs but due to corona, there are no jobs – and we thought let’s create them. So far the support that we are getting shows us that we are on the right track.

“People assume that recycling is for beggars. We want to change that misconception,” he said.

At first, he said, people thought they were insane and they had to work hard to get the buy-in of local businesses.

Their initiative got a boost when recycling company Econamic, owned by the Twinsaver Group, provided them with a container in which to store their recyclables as well as bags and tools.

Talking about how recycling is perceived in the township, Mr Dube, a second-year office administration student at False Bay College, said many people take recycling for granted and do not see its value and importance in the community.

While they still face a number of challenges, among them getting a vehicle to collect recycling material – they currently use a trolley – and buying personal protective equipment, the two are optimistic about their future prospects.