Hi-tech plan lets firm recover and recycle tyres and create jobs

Hi-tech plan lets firm recover and recycle tyres and create jobs 2ACCURATELY measuring a firm’s effect on communities and the environment is a notoriously tricky business.

Relatively few South African enterprises are able to pinpoint with precision how many jobs they have created or how much money low-income communities are earning as a direct result of their activities.

Few can reliably track the CO² emissions on any given trip from the vehicles their suppliers or service providers use, or calculate the carbon load of each processing plant.

The Recycling and Economic Development Initiative of SA (Redisa) can do this and meet the expectations of our stakeholders, especially the tyre industry and the Department of Environmental Affairs.

Our business is to turn waste into worth, specifically the millions of tyres scrapped as waste in SA every year.

Tyre makers and importers pay Redisa a waste-management fee to handle their waste tyre-recovery and recycling liability for them, and expect us to account for the work we do.

Likewise, the Department of Environmental Affairs expects us to fulfil our mandate of creating an environment in which small, medium and micro-enterprises can thrive, leading to job creation opportunities while leaving behind a reduced carbon footprint.

In meeting these expectations, technology has been Redisa’s greatest ally. Our IT management system won the 2014 Oracle Sustainability Innovation Award, previously presented to companies such as retail giant Walmart, Saudi Arabia’s National Guard Health Affairs and Ricoh electronics.

Technology, especially mobile technology, is woven into each and every part of our business, giving us a single, coherent view of our social, environmental and economic footprint.

From the landfills and rubbish dumps across SA, where waste pickers salvage discarded tyres, to the depots where they deposit them and the processing plants that recycle them, the facts and figures are at our fingertips at any given time.

Redisa has devised a cashless system to pay waste pickers around the country who retrieve tyres from scrapheaps. When the pickers register with Redisa, their photographs and identity documents (IDs) are scanned and used to create a bank card. As they arrive at a waste tyre container or depot, a mobile device checks their card, confirms their ID and records the transaction, including date, time, geographical location and the number of tyres brought in. Their payment for the tyres is transferred into their bank card account five days later.

Using this system, Redisa is able to report with great accuracy to the Department of Environmental Affairs on each transaction, showing how much cash has been injected into communities across the country. It can geo-locate every person it works with, including tyre dealers, waste tyre stockpiles, transport companies and tyre processors.

Every transaction of any kind in the tyre recovery and recycling chain goes straight onto Redisa’s database via mobile devices.

All the data resides in a single environment, providing very powerful information for reporting and decision making. This information gives both the big picture of tyre waste in SA and a high level of detail, right down to individual transactions.

For example, Redisa’s monitoring system sends out an alert that one of its tyre containers in Orange Farm is full of tyres ready for collection. Using mapping data, it is possible to ascertain how many vehicles are within a viable distance of the pick-up point.

The preference engine built into the technology then chooses a vehicle, using fairness and proximity as the criteria. Proximity has obvious implications for cost-effectiveness and efficiency, but the principle of fairness ensures that collection work is evenly distributed among all the transport businesses on Redisa’s books.

Besides providing up-to-the-minute information on every link in the tyre recovery and recycling chain, the management system and software tools can track carbon emissions created by the transport network of owner-managed business. These tools report on the emissions created by the processing facilities as a result of the tyres delivered to their premises.

This depth of knowledge is essential considering Redisa’s role as the flagship of the integrated waste-management industry in SA.

Barely two years old, Redisa operates in a blue-sky environment unmarred by legacy systems and data. Technology is used judiciously and innovatively to build a recycling industry, create jobs, deal with an environmental problem and make a significant contribution to reducing the national carbon footprint.