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Articles

August 2011 - Developing Entrepreneurs through can reclamation

From working as a paramedic and fireman to developing entrepreneurs, Thys Oosthuizen has always had a passion for helping people. Branch Manager of Collect-a-Can’s Aeroton depot, Oosthuizen’s passion shines through clearly in his efforts to provide support and mentorship to budding entrepreneurs who are striving to develop businesses in the can recovery industry by working with Collect-a-Can. Oosthuizen has been with Collect-a-Can for the last seven years. He was recruited by Collect-a-Can in 2003 as Branch Manager for their Vanderbijlpark branch and transferred to the Aeroton branch in Soweto the following year. Oosthuizen came originally from a retail background where he worked for Ellerines as Area Manager.

Collect-a-Can, who recovers used cans and processes them for recycling, has eight branches across the county. Their Aeroton Branch is the biggest in terms of the volume of cans processed. The branch opened in 1996 and has consistently met and exceeded its collection targets. Oosthuizen contributes part of the branch’s collection rate success to the fact that the branch is ideally situated close to all the major highways in the area (the N1, N2 and N12) making it easily accessible to people wishing to deliver bulk quantities of cans and giving the branch itself easy access to its collection areas.

The bulk of the cans that this branch receives are collected by the branch itself, predominantly from shopping centres, businesses, restaurants and casinos. Only about 10% of the cans processed come from schools.  “We would love to see an increase in the volume of cans that we receive from schools in our area,” says Oosthuizen. “There are so many wonderful prizes that the schools can win by taking part in our various schools competitions and schools also earn money for all the cans that they collect. If a school falls within our collection area we will gladly collect the cans directly from them once they have stockpiled an adequate amount of cans,” Oosthuizen explains.

The second largest influx of cans comes via can collection agents. Agents are independent operators who collect cans from businesses, schools and the community and sell them on to Collect-a-Can. Collect-a-Can assists these agents by providing them with advice on how to increase their productivity and profitability. In addition, they are assisted with materials like bags for collection, arrangement of transport and the use of mobile balers.  It is through growing and developing these foundling businesses that Oosthuizen finds true satisfaction in his work.  “I try to empower as many entrepreneurs as possible to become agents for Collect-a-Can,” says Oosthuizen, “I actively work on developing them by providing them with a baler on loan and visiting them to provide advice and guidance on an ongoing basis. With the correct support and mentorship these guys can become self supporting and will bring a lot of cans into our depot,” Oosthuizen explains.

The Aeroton branch also buys cans from waste pickers who reclaim cans and other recyclable waste from landfill sites in order to earn some money. “We go to the landfill sites to buy the cans from these reclaimers as they are not always in the position to transport them,” Oosthuizen explains.

“My vision for Collect-a-Can is to see as many used cans as possible being recovered from the waste stream for recycling,” say Oosthuizen, “and if we can help people to employ themselves and others at the same time then I can really say that we are making a difference to this country through the work that we are doing,” he concludes.

Caption: Thys Oosthuizen, Branch Manager of Collect-a-Can’s Aeroton depot standing in front of a tower of baled beverage cans. Oosthuizen consistently provides support and mentorship to budding entrepreneurs who are striving to develop businesses in the can recovery industry by working with Collect-a-Can.
 
For more information contact the Collect-a-Can Aeroton branch on 011 494 3623. Collect-a-Can is also on Facebook and Twitter.
 

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