What is in a recycling ‘service’?

How can you find the right recycling service? Which recycling service is reputable? Who do you trust with your recycling needs? It is trite that recyclers provide a service. In the absence of an industry watchdog there is, no uniform standard as to what recycling service should be provided or even the minimum standards that should be offered. Let’s examine what you should look for in selecting a recycling service.

At the one end of the spectrum is the so called “bakkie brigade”; entrepreneurs who drop by and take away your cardboard and plastic at no cost to you. At least they used to but not so much since the price of cardboard plummeted. They provide a service, which at best, is unreliable – sometimes the bakkie just won’t start.

A minimum acceptable service should be someone who visits regularly to collect the recyclables and provides you with a report and maybe even some payment at the end of the month. What more could a customer expect?

At a minimum the recycling service should be regular and give you a report of exactly what was recycled

The basics should include a person or organization with more than a cell number as a contact. There needs to be an organization with the capacity to deal with unavoidable delays and vehicle breakdowns. And a person to call you and tell you in advance that there will be a delay and tender an apology.

The recycling service provider and customer must agree on the levels of service and record this in writing – to protect both parties. It is irresponsible for the recycler to take what he wants and to leave the rest – often in a mess – for the customer to clean up. It is equally unfair for the customer to expect the recycler to take away that “little extra”, usually the size of a fridge or the fridge itself!

Worldwide recycling is a growing industry, with South Africa catching up, albeit a little behind. We have a very different economy and long distances between centres which increases the cost of recycling. Our recycling practices differ from the rest of the world. A good recycler will be aware of this and adapt its service level accordingly.

A good recycling service will also recycle oils, e-waste and even food waste, with an excellent recycling service repurposing waste

Recyclers can be expected to remove the basic recyclable materials including: cardboard, plastics, paper, tin and glass. A good recycler will also recycle oils, e-waste and food waste. An excellent recycler will find alternate uses for most sustainable materials.

Smart Waste takes the role of a project manager dealing with the entire waste stream including hazardous waste. We specialize in on-site recycling which enables us to identify and separate unusual waste streams. Clothing offcuts can be turned into dog blankets, polyprop bags make good and cheap shopping bags – and create employment. Pallets can be converted into furniture and kennels.

Using the philosophy of finding African solutions to African problems Smart Waste looks for innovative solutions. We advise clients on recycling practices to ensure they are maximizing their collections and minimizing their waste. We are presently collecting soiled rags at a number of factories to show the managers how much their processes are wasting. We also train client’s staff in recycling at source.

Recycling at source can help you find inefficiencies in your processes

Following on innovation is ethical standards. There are unfortunately still too many organizations who illegally dump waste including unwanted recycling. Smart Waste has all the accreditations and permits required to operate its business. We use sub-contractors who likewise are accredited. Most importantly we put ethical standards at the front of our corporate ethos and base our advertising around it.

A good recycler will report on the volume of recycling material collected, at least on a monthly basis.  This should include a breakdown of types of materials even if there is no income that could be generated from the recycling, such as styrofoam. A real time reporting system will be the cherry on the top enabling the client to monitor its collections.

Apart from the green credentials there are good economic reasons to recycle

Recycling, along with the economy, is going through a downturn. As we have said before this is all the more reason to recycle. Recycling is, however, an established and growing part of the waste industry. In years to come waste will be minimal and recycling will be the prevailing practice. Apart from the green credentials there are good economic reasons to recycle.

If this is the case it makes sense to use a reliable recycling service provider. One who has a track record, a reputation to uphold and standards it adheres to. When it counts – having independent verification of recycling for the auditors, assurance that waste is being dealt with ethically and saving money – a good recycler will provide those services.

Recycle Reg
Smart Waste

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