Carmen Jordaan took over Whole Earth Recycling at the end of 2014 and has helped the business grow from strength to strength

Whole Earth Recycling grows from strength to strength

WHAT began as a small recycling effort in March 2007 has grown into Whole Earth Recycling, a sizeable recycling business that currently recycles over 120 tons of recyclable material every month – 13 789kg of that plastics during August, most of it clear PET.

Whole Earth Recycling was founded in March 2007 on a farm in Randburg outside Johannesburg. At that stage sorting was done by just four sorters until 2009 when Whole Earth Recycling moved to Décor Park, and finally to Strijdom Park where it launched its community-based project in 2011.

Carmen Jordaan took over Whole Earth Recycling at the end of 2014 and has helped the business grow from strength to strength. Whole Earth Recycling provides a simple, reliable, and hassle-free way to recycle from home, the office, or school.

The recyclable material that Whole Earth Recycling collects is sorted by a community-based project, the Hawk Flight team, currently a group of 24 sorters who generate an income for themselves by sorting and selling the material to local buy-back centres.

The recyclables are collected from the Whole Earth Recycling warehouse by the buy-back-centres so that the sorters don’t have to pull their recyclables in bulk bags along busy roads to buy-back-centres to sell the recyclables.

Currently recycles over 120 tons of recyclable material every month

The Whole Earth Recycling warehouse provides shelter for the sorters against the elements and ensures that the recyclables do not end up in the environment. Traditionally reclaimers have had to sort recyclables in the open veld and some of the recyclables are blown into the veld and washed into nearby rivers. The sorters also have access to toilets, showers and a tea area in the Whole Earth Recycling warehouse.

“This is the only source of income for the sorters and without it they would be rummaging through municipal refuse bins to gather recyclables to sell,” says Jordaan. “By recycling with Whole Earth Recycling, people are contributing towards job creation (a total of around 40 people) – the Whole Earth Recycling drivers, truck assistants (loaders), and admin team and through the sorters that make up the community-based project – while reducing the impact that we are having on our environment. Every little bit helps.”


Upskilling where possible

“We try to upskill as many people as possible. Over the years we have employed some of the sorters as truck assistants/loaders and we have helped some of the truck assistants/loaders to get their drivers licenses. We have also done other training for employees – forklift driver certification, first aid training, and basic Excel training. We also helped one of our previous employees to start his own business – Bophelo’s Birdseed Bells.


How the Whole Earth Recycling collection service works

For a nominal monthly fee, Whole Earth Recycling provide blue recycling refuse bags and all dry recyclables (paper, cardboard, plastic, glass, cans, cartons such as Tetra Pak and electronic waste) can be placed into the same blue bag (or blue bin). The Hawk Flight team takes care of the sorting. Recyclables are placed outside in blue bags (or a blue bin) on the kerb for collection every week, and the Whole Earth Recycling team collects it. The recyclables are then taken to the Whole Earth Recycling warehouse where they are sorted by the Hawk Flight sorting team. Some of the sorted recyclables are collected by buy-back-centres, while other sorted recyclables such as cardboard, are baled until there are enough bales to send directly to a paper mill for recycling.

  • Whole Earth Recycling was featured on TV on Pasella earlier this year – view it here at