What to do with plastic? Meet the man who values the plastic value chain – Part 1 of 2.

Relebogile Matjila, the man who goes by the name of Bin Al-Turab which can be loosely translated to Son of the Soil originally from Phake-Thabeng in Mpumalanga Province. He is a plastic entrepreneur mainly focused on plastic recycling, manufacturing and packaging. His factory and business is headquartered and operated in the industrial hub of Babelegi Industrial Park located within the borders of Gauteng, North West, Limpopo and Mpumalanga provinces respectively.

Relebogile Matjila the man from Phake village in Mpumalanga province, he lives sleeps and dreams plastic.
Image: Supplied

Growing up in the villages, Relebogile, like many of peers then never thought he would end up in the plastic industry. Today his business which is divided into three divisions has footprint in just under 45% of the country’s provinces, thanks to his plastic manufacturing unit which mainly focuses on firewood or braai wood packaging as well as various coloured refuse bags. This operation supplies these products to clients in Gauteng, Limpopo, North-West and Mpumalanga Provinces, he has hopes of expanding this to other provinces in the near future. “We are currently developing networks with aspirant entrepreneurs across the country to supply them with refuse bags to start their respective businesses” said Relebogile.

When asked what the recycling unit focuses on in brief he said “my plastic recycling business is focused on waste/used woven polypropylene bags (i.e. maize bags) recycling. This process entails collecting, sorting, crushing, washing, extruding (heat treatment process) and pelletizing (final product) the waste bags for use in plastic product manufacturing such as plastic chairs and waste bins. We have divested from the final product production due to partnership disagreements but continue to supply the pelletized plastic to the former partners. In essence, we supply the much needed raw material in the production of plastic products.”

Lastly there is the packaging unit, this a unit which primarily focuses on the distribution level of food packaging essentials i.e. foam trays, sauces, spices, paper products, carry bags and chemicals. Plans are already at an advanced stage to start with the manufacturing of these products. With the growing number of business in the fast food industry, there is absolutely a huge market to tap into and we can only hope that this team are able to take advantage of this. Although to-date they are based in Hammanskraal, they plan to expand to other regions namely Pankop to Ga-Maria and Pienaarsrivier to Modimolle in the short to medium plan.

He is a University of Pretoria alumnus with a Bachelor of Engineering (BEng) in Electrical Engineering, after spending some time working for Eskom he was then offered an opportunity to sharpen his skillset through training on various projects at a Small Medium Enterprise called Sparrow Industrial Research and Consulting. The journey has not been easily especially with the rising costs of fuel and electricity hikes, but for Relebogile and his team this is just another challenge they believe they can and have to navigate and manoeuvre through.   

The business started off as a distribution run by his sister after a failed manufacturing business, while working full time for another company, Bin Al-Turab joined forces with her and rented a space at a shop on one of the busiest roads to sell their products at a fee. After some trials and tribulations which led to fall outs shop owners and plant owners, they were fortunate enough to be offered a plant and factory (with dilapidated and aged infrastructure) to commence operations. They pushed through with breakdowns and uncertainties for themselves, their employees and of course the business. “Everything else up to present has been nothing but sweat, sheer dedication and persistence” remarked Relebogile.

Relebogile aka Bin Al-Turab hard at work with the machines.
Image: Supplied

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