James Vos, City of Cape Town's Mayco Member for Economic Opportunities and Asset Management, visits New Earth Recycling to find out more about how post-consumer and post-industrial polystyrene is recycled into various new and useful products

Cape Town PS recycler creates items valued at R3-million a month

NEW Earth Recycling, a company based in Parow and a member of the award-winning Western Cape Industrial Symbiosis Programme (WISP), processes 40 tons of waste a month from polystyrene products to create new usable items valued at an estimated R3-million each month.

Mayco Member for Economic Opportunities and Asset Management, James Vos, explains the company’s process: “New Earth Recycling collects recyclables from households and companies and processes these products into clothing hangers, picture frames, curtain rails, bean bag fillings, light-weight concrete bricks, insulated panels and seedling fertilizer mix, among others.”

Founded in 2013, the company aims to employ homeless people and has created employment opportunities for 15 permanent staff members and three seasonal workers on a casual basis. It is funded by the City’s Enterprise and Investment Department and is managed by GreenCape.


More job opportunities for locals

New Earth Recycling CEO, Noel Ehrenreich, says that the business is growing and aims to provide more job opportunities for locals.

“There are thousands of tons of polystyrene waste that still goes to landfills every month. To divert more waste we need more space, vehicles and machines to expand the operations and unlock the potential. We would work with local material recovery facilities receiving more and more household waste through the city’s residential recycling initiatives to assist them in diverting this waste from landfills. Our expansion plans will divert an additional 250 tons of polystyrene a month.  This will create at least 50 new job opportunities directly and 150 jobs indirectly in the short to medium term,” he says.

Companies that are members of the WISP programme are provided with a facilitator that offers the business technical expertise by connecting them with unused or residual resources, including materials, energy, water, assets and logistics.


WISP initiative contributes significantly to City’s green economy

“Through the sharing of resources, businesses are able to contribute to the growth of the economy, cut costs and increase profit, improve their business processes, create new revenue streams and operate more sustainably. To date, all companies who are members of WISP have collectively diverted over 67 000 tons of waste which has generated economic benefit equivalent to R69 million in Cape Town’s green economy,” comments Vos on how the WISP initiative has significantly contributed to the city’s green economy.

The initiative helps to tackle the issue of waste and creates jobs for local communities. Vos adds that for every R1.00 invested in WISP, R7.00 is returned to the companies based in Cape Town.

“The work of the WISP members has also resulted in estimated greenhouse gas savings of 152 200 tons of carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2e), which equates to the electricity use of 41 038 South African households,” adds Vos.

Mayco Member for Water and Waste Xanthea Limberg says that the City is open to new ideas from budding entrepreneurs wanting to reduce the city’s carbon footprint and create a company.

“It is heartening to see such small businesses playing such a pivotal role in waste minimisation. The City currently manages three landfill sites and provides 27 waste drop-off sites which the public can use for free to drop off recyclable materials, most types of green waste, construction rubble generated at the household level as well as garage waste.

“Recyclable and re-usable materials from the drop-off sites are recovered by contracted entrepreneurs. We encourage potential entrepreneurs to come up with similar innovative business ideas to turn waste into other reusable products, and in the process generating wealth for themselves, while creating work opportunities for other individuals,” says Limberg.