Upcycling has so many benefits in South Africa, beyond minimising waste and aiding recycling efforts. It also supports communities through skills development and as a new source of income for families. Upcycling can even help local businesses to meet their broad-based black economic empowerment (B-BBEE) requirements and corporate social investment (CSI) targets.
Upcycling is a method of waste management that transforms discarded objects into new, usable products that can be re-sold, such as lampshades and placemats. Certain materials cannot be recycled, but they can be upcycled and sold for a profit. This minimises waste in landfills and contributes to a circular economy.
The idea also lends itself to entrepreneurial opportunities where South Africans can make money and teach themselves new skills. It can help unemployed citizens to make a living by creating products from discarded objects in the environment. The community development and economic benefits of upcycling can have a profoundly positive impact in many regions of the country.
Upcycling and B-BBEE compliance
Businesses can use upcycling to their advantage and meet their B-BBEE targets. The practice of upcycling can be used to teach employees new skills, provide employment for more citizens, encourage entrepreneurship and support business development. These benefits align neatly with major B-BBEE requirements for companies.
Many South African businesses have improved the sustainability of their operations by introducing an upcycling programme to manage their waste. They have proven that these benefits can help employees and the business to grow. Similar opportunities exist for most companies to implement similar programmes that uplift employees and minimise waste to landfill.
What businesses need to know about upcycling
Any venture looking to start an upcycling programme needs to ensure that the project aligns with the company’s strategic goals and B-BBEE targets. The business needs to identify who will benefit from upcycling and how this can support communities. This will allow them to create a plan of action and achieve their goals.
There are several logistical issues that need to be addressed. Firstly, the company should produce suitable waste that can be used in their upcycling efforts. Secondly, the business needs to outline how this waste can be turned into valuable products by employees. They should also spend some time thinking about how training and upskilling will be imparted upon their workers.
Lastly, the company needs to closely monitor waste input and product output. There are certain legislative reports that need to be compiled for any upcycling programme. Records of sales should be kept and the upcycling programme should be closely monitored and documented. This will ensure smooth business processes at the end of every financial year, as well as when the B-BBEE rating is reviewed.
By supporting upcycling initiatives, South African businesses can help to drive the economic growth of their region. If there is no opportunity for a company to start its own internal upcycling project, they can always support existing programmes in their community. Upcycling is a sustainable method of waste management that protects the environment and improves several aspects of business in the process.
Averda is a leading waste management provider with over 50 years of experience across three continents. Through growth, transformation and engagement, we strive to find new ways of managing waste while protecting the community and environment.
By pairing international expertise with local insights, we have secured our position as one of South Africa’s most respected providers of waste management and industrial cleaning services. We also operate in the recycling, pipe inspection, CCTV, infrastructure inspection, hydro-demolition, high-pressure water jetting and catalyst handling industries.
Follow us Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn for the best tips on recycling and the latest industry news. See our Instagram and YouTube channels for more insights into environmental affairs and our work with local communities.