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5.5 Operational Network linkages in Recycling
Industries survive because of links with other industries. One of the objectives of the research was to establish these linkages in the industry. Thus the research question was “What are the backward and forward network linkages of the industry in Namibia”
This research found out the existence of local, regional and international linkages. Linkages were either educational, promotional and research information flows, raw material, receptor material and financial flows, transport and logistics and partnership. These link were either backward or forward linkages. Companies were linked among themselves; with local authorities; with transport and engineering industries; business world; waste generators, raw material producers, manufacturing companies, wholesale and retail companies, and academic institutions. See Table 4.25 page 108. The discussion which follows outlines the linkages at local, regional and international levels.
5.5.1 Local recyclable material linkages
Table 4.25 in Chapter 4 shows forms of recycling company backward and forward linkages within Namibia and outside. Locally, companies have linkages with a number of players supplying raw material such as households, industries, waste management companies, retail businesses, schools, waste pickers, SMEs, universities and colleges through material flows, information flow, transport logistics, financial flows, technology, physical resources, promotion and educational. Some companies were reluctant to divulge their linkages but could only say they work in partnership with the City Council. Interviews with other recycling players brought to the attention of the researcher, revealed the wider network with a number of businesses.
The following sections outline the major companies in the recycling industry and their backward and forward linkages.
5.5.1.1 Total Plastic Recycling linkages
Company A is at the center of most of the activities in the nonmetal recycling in Namibia. The company was working in partnership with local authorities, businesses and informal sector in a urban centers such as Windhoek, Swakopmund, Walvis Bay, Henties Bay and Oshakati as a recycler and a promoter of recycling. Networks among recyclers were developed due to plastic raw material needs. Company A had backward and forward linkages with companies involved in plastic material recycling such as company B, C, D F, G, I, L as well as waste pickers whose material sources varied from households, businesses, industries, mines, construction sites and institutions (Government and private), dumpsites and even from open spaces. Some of the plastic materials collected and processed by these companies were traded with company A and in turn company A forwarded these to company D in Okahandja or to South Africa
Company D is the only plastic raw material producing company in the country. Raw plastics of different types (soft and hard) are processed to produce pellets, the main raw material for the manufacturing of plastic products. Pellets produced by company D have local linkages with markets such as company B, C and H, and other plastic producing companies around the country that produce various plastic products as well as transporting vehicle companies. These companies use both virgin and secondary raw materials acquired locally and internationally for the production of the various products. Company C supplied pipes products to building construction companies, farmers and wholesales. The same with company H that also had local linkages with wholesalers, retail shops and individual buyers.
Plastic was the only product where there was a complete recycling loop with linkages from suppliers of raw material, processors, manufacturers, retailers and recycled product consumers, and back to supplier of raw materials within the network.
5.5.1.2 Non-metal material linkages
Companies A and N were into paper recycling. These companies were linked to producers such as wholesalers, retailers and institutions (gvt, schools, colleges, universities, banks etc.). Company A; however was the only major player on this material. Processed materials were only sent to regional markets in South Africa.
Companies A, F, L and N were the main recyclers of glass, which was collected from various sources by other companies linked to them as follows: waste pickers deposited these materials in bottle banks which were found at some shopping centers in Windhoek or delivered to company A directly; some of the glass material was sent to wholesalers by these companies, for example, company F sent some of the glass bottles to Coca Cola and company L as well. However, company A received most of the glass materials from anyone. Upon pre-processing, companies sent their products to South Africa for further processing.
Both steel and aluminum cans were processed in the country, most of them being soft drink and bear cans. Companies A was linked to F, G, L, N who receive raw material from the network and processing them for the regional market. The rest of the companies were processing the cans upon collection from dumpsites, households and businesses.

5.5.1.3 Metallic Material linkages
Company E was at the center of most of the activities in the scrap-metal recycling in Namibia. The company was working in partnership with local authorities in a number of urban centers such as Windhoek, Swakopmund, Walvis Bay, Henties Bay and Oshakati among others. The researcher observed a variety of recyclables aluminum, steel, cans being processed. The company E had a much wider network throughout the country ranging from government institutions, (Trans Namib, Namdeb, and Nampower), mines, shipping companies and anyone who had any scrap to offer. The company had backward and forward linkages with other companies in the material flow network e.g. many small companies who were into this business were the brainchild of this company and were working in partnership with these up-coming small recycling companies. Company E provided the expertise, storage and equipment facilities to the small recyclers and in turn these companies traded some of their products with the company. This was supported by company J that was also into scrap metal recycling, so it depended on company E for storage as well as equipment and marketing.
5.5.1.4 E-waste material linkages
Company K which was involved in e-waste recycling was also selling scrap-metal and plastics, as by-products of e-waste recycling produced during dismantling of precious metal recovery, to company E and A respectively. Other waste materials were deposited at the main dumpsite of Kupferberg under the care of company I. The semi processed materials were exported to South Africa and Asian markets for further processing.
5.6. Local non-material linkages:
In order to encourage recycling, local authorities assisted by providing land for operations by recycling companies. In return, companies recycled municipal solid waste. Company O donated land to company A in Windhoek in 2010 to build a MRF. In Swakopmund, the company site manager also confirmed allocation of land they were working from. However, in Walvis Bay, the company was still in talks with the Local Authority to give them land outside town to construct a MRF. These partnership arrangement enabled more recovery activities as more space was made available, a development which other companies longed for as they lamented shortage of land as a hampering factor in their operations.
Company A was also involved in promoting recycling among the young generation working together with Local Authorities, other recycling companies and the business world. In order to do this, the company and companies B,M,L were linked to promoting participation of school children through Recycling Competitions. The promotion however was mainly in urban schools during the time of study. Collection booths were placed in various schools in Windhoek and Walvis Bay. Thus company A was linked to the schools and other companies in the quest to encourage recycling.
Recycling companies were also partnering with waste pickers (informal sector) in most urban centers. At the time of study, in Windhoek, Swakopmund and Keetmanshoop waste pickers and companies A and N were working in partnership. Waste pickers recovered an assortment of materials from dumpsites which were then collected by recycling companies in return for a fee.
Like any other industry, one of the factors influencing the performance of the industry is transport. Despite the numerous companies involved in recycling, the network could not manage to collect most of the glass bottles and cans as there were a lot left lying around the country side. This was a sign of weak linkages in transport logistics and low commodity price in the market to stimulate provision of this service. However, where transport was economic, the industry is linked to transporters because not all of them have their own means of transport for example companies G and L were involved in provision of transport for collection of cans and a number of cross-border transporters carried recyclable across to South Africa.
5.6.1 Regional and International Linkages
Total recycling was still limited to plastic products due to limited capacity in the country, hence all products recovered and processed were sent for further processing to South Africa. Apart from the local networks, these companies also had regional and international linkages. The main trading partner for most of the companies was in South Africa however on the international front there were links with companies in India, Indonesia and China.
Company B had regional markets where its products were sold: Upington in South Africa and Angola. On the other hand, company C’s products were sold to countries such as Botswana, Angola, Zambia and Zimbabwe as shown in Table 4.26 on page 110. Company A was also in partnership with a renowned world class international Finnish Waste Management company based on skills and technology transfer.
5.6.2 Summary on linkages
Company A had backward and forward linkages with most companies in educational, promotional, information flow, material flows, partnership and financial flows. Although, the research established a number of linkages; only material flow linkages could be demonstrate clearly with a map given in figure 4.6. The linkages are both backward and forward with link showing the flow of materials and nodes showing processing zones in the recycling industry of Namibia. According to one of the officials this was unavoidable due to the nature of the business. On financial flows none of the companies was willing to discuss this issue as it was considered confidential.
What came out during the study was that the industry, was well networked with a number of players such as financial and academic institutions; recyclable raw material producers and generators; and processing and manufacturing industries just to mention a few. Networking was considered necessary in the recycling industry as supported by Sharpe, S. ; Agarwal, R. (2014 p.363′) who emphasized that ‘the increasing sophistication of recycling processes requires collaboration and network linkages across different components of industrial activities, just like in any other industry which requires a number of inputs for it to remain viable. Both backward and forward linkages existed in the industry with bigger companies at the center of the network. The main companies identified were company E dealing with scrap-metal; company K dealing with e-waste and company A dealing with the rest of the recyclable raw material. Only a few companies stood alone and were selling their produce direct to markets due to logistical issues.
5.7 Chapter Summary
Interpretation of the research data and discussion of the findings were presented in this chapter. Namibia is involved in recycling activities being driven by three main motives, economic, environmental and social. The industry is still in its infancy as reflected by large volumes of recyclables raw materials of different types still being exported for further processing outside the country’s boundaries and some finding its way to dumpsites. Despite, the fact, the industry has brought some benefits to the country including employment creation, cleaning of the environment and availability of cheaper commodities for the domestic market. In addition, recycling patterns emerging such as government involvement is an indication of how the industry is gaining recognition among some of the long established industry. The survival of the industry was partly a result of its networks with a number of players. A number of factors including transport and logistics, labour issues, financial constraints, public participation, governance and market forces threaten the success of the industry as well as a solution to waste management challenges affecting most local authorities in the country. The next chapter provides a proposal for a recycling model which may assist the country to deal with waste management issues.

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