Going green in a small way to help both the community and keep her staff of
22 fully employed, is beginning to pay big dividends
for a super-sharp Eastern Cape entrepreneur. Nomkita
Mantile’s business is collecting and recycling
glass – up to 280 000 individual bottles
and 40 tons of broken glass a month!
In fact, business is so good that the 45-year-old
mother of three children – becoming known
in Port Elizabeth as “Mama Glass”
– says she has no time for holidays over
the Christmas peak – they have a double
job to do. “Early in the morning, my staff
and I go to the beaches to collect empty bottles
lying around the area. We don’t charge the
local council or any government department for
this cleaning service of the beaches, the surrounding
car parks and picnic areas,” she explains.
When the SABC ran an insert on television news
of this sterling job that left beaches clean and
safe from broken bottles that might injure holidaymakers,
DaimlerChrysler’s Kobus van Zyl sat up and
took notice. He immediately saw Nomkita’s
need for a larger vehicle for her booming business.
Soon a specially structured deal with Mercedes-Benz
Finance, arranged through Trevor Kitson at the
local dealer Maritime Motors, set Wandile Bottle
Exchange on their way to include the Atego 1017
medium commercial vehicle in their small fleet.
Nomkita’s business partner is her 50-year-old
husband, Wandile, for whom the business is named,
who recently began working full time for the company
after having worked for 20 years as a medium commercial
vehicle driver for furniture group Morkels.
The other trucks were old and unreliable and
limited them to a small area in Port Elizabeth.
“But with the reliability of the Atego,
we can now go much further,” says Nomkita.
“This means we can go to towns like Addo
and even Peddie (about 250 km away). These towns
have no recycling and when we arrive we go ‘toot,
toot’ on the Atego’s hooter and the
people come to us and we exchange the bottles
they have collected for cash. It’s a great
feeling to be able to help these people earn a
But more often than not she is across the busy
yard in a store-room, close to the action, keeping
records and doing the book-keeping.
“This is one part of our business and some
of the collectors make a good living; others make
enough money for themselves and their families
to have a roof over their heads and to eat, so,
again, the community benefits. The other part
of our business is collecting bottles ourselves
as a service to businesses,” says Nomkita.
Once collected, sorted and checked to ensure
they are 100 percent intact at the recycling yard,
many of the bottles are returned to the original
producers. Others that have been cracked or don’t
fit into the regular mix are placed in a 10-ton
skip and broken down for delivery to a glass company
for recycling. The full skip is collected once
a week, while about 70 000 bottles a week are
sorted and recycled.
“We’ll keep on working hard, hopefully
reducing the terrible unemployment that we see
every day, and also keep the environment a little
greener by recycling the bottles. Oh, and one
other thing is that we want to get some more of
the best trucks around – iBenz vehicles,
of course,” says Nomkita.