Southland disABILITY Enterprises Ltd, through our business collections and our contract with Wastenet (Wastenet is the three Southland Councils which consists of the Southland District Council, the Gore District Council and the Invercargill City Council that provide your kerbside recycling service), receive, process and sell as many and as much recyclable items as logistically possible.
It means that our environment is enhanced by a huge reduction on items that would otherwise go into a landfill. Utilising recycled materials means that natural resources are not reduced at the same frenetic pace as other places, and pollution is reduced as a consequence.
Ideology can set a vision but the environment, economy and financial considerations need to influence strategies and actions.
Commercial operators will only recycle items that provide a full return to enable them to support their business activities and produce a profit for their shareholders.
However, it has been proven in other countries that where community organizations become involved in recycling, that they are able to dig deeper into the waste stream and recycle products that are not deemed commercially viable.
It is also true that the global economy is marginalising more and more, the people at the ‘bottom of the heap’ and these people are no longer getting their needs met by the main stream economy. Southland disABILITY Enterprises Ltd exists, in part, for this reason.
Capital costs are always an issue.
While we receive serious on-going support from our local Community Trust and the Invercargill Licensing Trust with many hundreds of thousands of dollars donated to us over the last seventeen years, it is often still a struggle to purchase the correct equipment for the jobs that we do.
We often have to buy “make do” equipment until we can raise the extra funds to buy something which maximises positive returns and minimises costs and pollution.
With waste management becoming a global issue, as energy sources are being depleted, we know that the future of organisations like ours (labour intensive but people friendly) depend on us finding niche markets for our products or services.
We have found that providing services that will benefit the community, the environment and also reduce energy consumption, coupled with providing employment for people with disability, has proven to be a winning formula that draws support naturally.
The community wants to support endeavours like ours. They see a need within our community being met, and are quicker to provide assistance knowing that we are also trying to help ourselves.
They are aware that we compete with the commercial sector and understand that we need to operate a commercial enterprise with a social purpose.
Big vs. Small
There is a parallel with the David and Goliath story in the story of Southland disABILITY Enterprises Ltd.
We go head to head with large corporate organisations for our recycling.
That we do so however, is not only acceptable to the public at large but is the fairy tale that they like to see – the ‘little man’ standing up and competing in an open market.
Having said that though, we must ensure that we don’t place constraints (due to a lack of finance) on new ventures or activities, and ensure that we always take calculated risks (the same as the general commercial sector or public at large).
Failure to do so will only see the demise of a community organisation that has taken decades to build, with a reputation for innovation and diverse concepts and ideas.
Southland disABILITY Enterprises Ltd will continue to grow, as it is a valuable resource for Southland, the Environment, and the Communities of which our employees and staff are members.