From trash to cash — recycling entrepreneur takes aim at construction industryTuesday, October 25, 2016
BY KARENA BENNETT Business reporter firstname.lastname@example.org
At age 8, he was diagnosed with dyslexia, a reading disorder characterised by trouble with reading despite normal intelligence.
"I was told I wouldn’t amount to anything because when my brother and stepsister were reading, I was always distracted and I kept on turning the c’s, d’s and e’s backways, so it was also a struggle," Scheed Cole said.
And a struggle indeed it was after he was abandoned by his parents shortly after entering St Andrew Technical High School, which forced him to become more responsible and to get creative in earning an income to get through school.
Fast-forward to 2016, Cole now owns and operates a waste-to-wealth company, 360Recycle Manufacturing Ltd, which seeks to add value to items thrown away. The company uses recyclable or biodegradable materials such as plastic bottles, newspapers, styrofoam containers and cardboards to create featured artworks and environmentally- friendly products.
While the Government deliberates on whether or not to reduce the use of plastic bags and styrofoam containers, Cole — a trained visual art educator — is recycling the materials to create flower pots, playground elements, partition boards, curbwalls, blocks, and even plastic bottle housing facilities using a combination of plastic bottles, shredded cardboards, newspapers and styrofoam.
"The aim is really to cut the cost of constructing a home between 30 and 50 per cent. So a 10 by 10 structure would cost somewhere in region of $1.5 million to construct; we are trying to get it to you for $800,000 and to create a cooler structure using the styrofoam and the bottles," Cole told the Jamaica Observer.
"All it requires now is a mason with average masonary skills to roughcast and render the wall."
It was during high school that Cole began experimenting with colours through painting. After completing St Andrew Technical with seven CXC subjects, he went on to the Mico Teachers’ College and later Edna Manley College of the Visual Arts and Performing Arts, where he studied fine arts before transitioning to teaching high school students.
But after nine years of teaching at inner-city high schools, Cole left the classroom and ventured into entrepreneurship, starting and shuttering two operations before opening 360Recycle Manufacturing.
Currently Cole employs 25 peoples to carry out operations. But plans are to double that number as he expands operations to include the reuse of metal and aluminum cans for roof paneling and cladding for homes.
"We are trying to see what is the largest quantity of waste we can recycle as well as experimenting with the different types of waste. We still haven’t created a product for the tin cans, but we are doing our research," the CEO said.
The process of creating the products is carried out using a repurposed machine to blend materials such as the cardboard and newspaper down to pulp, after which the excess water is removed from materials and grated into a pebble. The end product is then placed to dry and measured to create the mixture for the different product.
"The machine was actually used to mix slurry for clay material, so what I did was to convert it and put on a sharper blade on it because there was no machine I could buy to carry it back down to pulp," Cole said.
Upon creating the mixture for each product, the material is then poured into the molded design and dried before painting is applied. The CEO also employs upcycling process — where materials such as plastic bottles are used in its current form — to create most of his playground equipment. Prices for his products range from $2,000 for the flower pots up to $180,000 for a lion sculpture.
Cole noted that each product design is registered as intellectual property.
PARTNERING WITH PUBLIC/PRIVATE SECTOR
While Cole reckons that manufacturing useful products from waste is a lucrative industry, he stressed that he needs help to continue his operation and is calling on Jamaicans, the private and public sector, to partner with the company. Already he is in discussions with manufacturing company, Wisynco, the Kingston and St Andrew Parish Council, supermarkets, hardwares, and the Forestry Department.
"All it takes to be a partner of 360Recycle is to carry your recycled materials here. Sign up with us and be a regular supplier of your household garbage. Also for companies, their entire staff can benefit if they join with us. We carry a bin and have regular pickups and all their employees are eligible for 20 per cent discounts off every item that we sell," Cole told the Business Observer.
360Recycle Manufacturing is registered as a not-for-profit company and was founded in 2015. It operates on Rousseau Road in close proximity to Trench Town and Arnette Gardens, providing training and employment to community members.
Cole recalled how his journey to create stunning commercial art sculptures began after visiting a fine arts store in France.
"I saw some beautiful pieces, and I asked them what is the price for these and they said US$60. I asked ‘do you take Jamaican pieces’ and they said no because the quality is not good."
"So I wanted to prove that we can give equal quality or better, so I bought a lion for about $30,000 and when I compared my artwork with theirs, I believe my work is far more detailed and its proof that the quality is here in Jamaica," he said.
He added that the Government touts the slogan ‘Buy Jamaica, build Jamaica’, but many small manufacturers struggle to produce at the highest quality.
"Like what is happening at 360Recycle. If we had bigger machines to grind up the materials, we could get a lot more done, but we have to be reinvesting from the little sales we make, so it’s going to be a very slow growth process."
According to Cole, with the proper machinery the company can process up to one million pots per day up from the 20 flower pots 360Recycle currently manufactures. He also hopes to construct a research centre and expand his factory over the next two years.
Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at https://bit.ly/epaper-login