Wastex Africa 2013 Review:

Environmental Entrepreneurship at its Best

In case you missed it, the Wastex Africa Convention 2013 (29th - 31st May) was a superb opportunity for learning about what's new, and who's who in the green scene. It took place at the Gallagher Conference Centre in Midrand, South Africa and it drew a good sized crowd. It was well set out, with a long green carpet in the centre representing a major sponsor, Johannesburg City Parks.


"Going green" is officially our generation's tag line, and it's up to us to go beyond the tagline and make it our way of life. Wastex Africa was a wonderful display of how entrepreneurs across a broad range of industries are putting all their efforts into creating a greener tomorrow - and are not going broke doing it... To find out more about some of the companies on show at the expo, simply click on the links.

(Twitter: @earthprobiotic)

I learnt a great deal I didn't know before, like how you can use a wheat-bran derivative called Bokashi to break down your food waste into compost - without the rotting smell. This Japanese invention has been used since the 80s, and is suitable for any sized household. Earth Probiotic have taken it a few steps further by designing a vertical garden, which is fertilized at the top, then filters through the rest of the plants by the all-natural force of gravity. The costs of the Bokashi system are reasonable, and landfills not only benefit from the waste reduction, but you do too. Next time there is a garbage collection strike, one thing you don't need to worry about are offensive smells building up in your garden!

A battery-powered tricycle
to transport the newly Bokashi-enriched soil

Samples from right to left:
Step 1. A jar of pure Bokashi
Step 2. Assorted kitchen food waste mixed with Bokashi
Step 3Dark, rich soil food. Fully fermented, & ready for composting
Vertical Garden

Green Machine

The Waterless Car Wash is another interesting innovation. It's most amazing achievement is the fact that it uses less than 1 litre of water, as compared to 200 litres in conventional car washes. Any water you use is for washing the cloth that wipes the car. It achieves these incredible savings because the water is replaced by biodegradable chemicals that break down into harmless by-products within 48 hours. It is designed for purchase by entrepreneurs who want to start a car cleaning business without the issue of renting a wash bay, covering water costs, and electrical bills. This handy unit has everything you need and it runs on battery. 


Alternative Timber

Ever heard of Alternative Timber? Although I have probably chilled out on a porch somewhere thanks to them, I probably wasn't aware at the time that I was sitting on 100% recycled plastic. They use every kind of used plastic you can think of as raw material, and process it to turn it from:

...to This

A 100% Recycled Plastic Rocking Chair

These planks are more solid than some types of real wood, and less susceptible to wear and tear. They work in collaboration with Plastics SA and the National Recycling Forum, creating entire playgrounds and decks - even this lodge has used Alternative Timber products. If that doesn't amaze you enough, the company is headed by none other than South African TV's Shorty, best known as the partner in crime of Leon Schuster's wacky characters in his slapstick comedy films. He personally gave me a complete background of what Alternative Timber does, and there were no jokes about it. Imagine a world with no plastic in our streets and waterways, but instead recycled plastic houses were provided for the homeless.

Alfred "Shorty" Ntombela seated at a solid alternative timber table

Recycling Machines

I also met several brokers for environmental machines, some of which were on display and showed demonstrations. Orient Collection Imports process rubber tyres into several different sized granules, from chunks to powers. 

Powdered Rubber

I saw a machine swallow a section of copper cable, PVC casing and all, and spit out the finely granulated raw materials in neat, separate piles. It recycles much more than copper cables too. I would have taken it home with me, but I left my million rand in my other wallet.

Copper Cable Recycling Machine from ITAL-SA

For you motor-heads, Osiba Automotive provides tools and services that fix car components that are usually thrown away and replaced, creating needless waste. This company aims to lengthen the life of common car parts, and thus reduce wastage - which naturally comes with a reduction in cost.

Tools of the trade

Finally, Eco² Partnership SA continually works on researching and carrying out sustainable methods to convert tyre waste to energy. They are always on the look out for innovative people to form partnerships with, and they have had over 30 projects in South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda and Tanzania to their name.


Going Green can include a wide range of activities across all industries, and according to the representatives of the fast growing industries present at the expo, it can mean "greening" your pockets as well. 


Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!


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