Started in 2019 by Durban-based Bevlen Sudhu, Re-Purpose collect and sort waste, co-ordinating with recycling processors to convert each plastic stream into re-usable materials. In this interview, Sudhu outlines the foundations of the Durban operation as well as its current scale and prospects for the near future.

Re-Purpose plays a role in South Africa's waste picking economy by offering Buyback centres. What is Re-Purpose's current total, and how do you think about opening new ones / taking over existing facilities? 
We currently support over 40 Buyback centres and are adding two or three each month. We believe the only way to access plastic waste in informal communities is through Buyback centres. This allows informal job creation for local waste pickers and waste diversion from landfill whilst support and growing a potential small, medium and micro enterprise (SMME).

How many processing facilities do you have for the different streams? 
We have four Materials Recovery Facilities (MRFs) and work directly with the plastic converters/producers in each plastic stream to process the plastic into a finished product.

What is the most common obstacle or challenge?
The critical challenge in plastic recycling is the logistics - getting waste from source to the convertor in the most viable way possible. We could drive kilometres to collect a few kilograms of plastic, but this isn't viable and can cost us heavily. Our business model is aimed at maximising footprint in order to maximise volume. This is why we invest resources and time in organising our logistics efficiently.

What goals do you have for 2024-25? 
Our goal for the next year is to divert over 1,000 tons of plastic per month into re-use.

What three things do you need to accelerate Re-Purpose's growth in South Africa? 
1. Funding: to scale our infrastructure and footprint.
2. Commitment: from our teams and partners to believe in what we're doing and where we going.
3. Leverage: Collaborate and work together with like-minded enterprises to leverage each others strengths and grow together.