Riversands Alumni is on a Mission to save the planet

Apple Green Environmental entrepreneur Langa Sangoni is a dedicated sustainability activist who has a vision for a zero-waste society within his lifetime. He runs the business with his business partner Boniswa Sangoni (who also happens to be his wife) and – like numerous businesses worldwide – when the pandemic hit in 2020, the company had to be innovative to ensure its future sustainability. This included a revision of the company’s business operating model, which resulted in its moving out of Riversands Incubation Hub in June last year and implementing a work from home strategy for all office-based workers. As an essential services provider, the company continued skeleton operations at its depot in Nooitgedaacht, where the company employs 88 people.

“My business partner and I complement each other in the business. I’m responsible for sales, marketing, innovation and strategy while Boniswa takes care of operations, finance and HR. During the initial hard lockdown, several difficult decisions had to be made, which resulted in the retrenchment of up to 15 permanent staff. However, our regular contract customers such Riversands Incubation Hub, Century Property Developments (and several other blue chip customers) ensured that we were able to survive the period since the recycling depots were all closed. We are grateful for the solidarity displayed by our customers in continuing all our contracts during the lockdown period,” explained Sangoni.

Further innovations that happened during lockdown were the development and deployment of our mobile application (which can be downloaded from our website https://www.applegreenx.co.za/). We also introduced a zero food waste service which has put the business into a new category and customers have been eager to take advantage of it. We have enough space to turn the food waste into compost, which will become a virtuous cycle when the compost is sold to new customers such as landscapers, food producers and the like. For now, the team at the farm is using the compost in their veggie garden as well as making it available to the local community for their food gardens,” he commented.

Apple Green Environmental was one of the first SMEs to take premises at Riversands Incubation Hub so when questioned about his time there, he quickly points out the numerous benefits apart from the low cost rental on his unit. “It quickly became apparent that there was collaboration potential with other business owners. In fact, we have a fruitful partnership with Organic Matters which offers odour control solutions in addition to removing grease and fat from restaurants and other commercial buildings,” said Sangoni.

Publicity in mainstream media was another benefit Sangoni mentioned about his time at the Hub. Apple Green Environmental was recognised as the top Gamechanger in the 2019 Nedbank Small Business Excellence Awards.

Not one to rest on his laurels, Sangoni has plans to establish an energy from waste plant in the Eastern Cape as soon as he can raise the necessary finance. “Of course such projects are on hold at present but I’m determined to see this one come to fruition. Given the current energy transition in South Africa to renewable, low carbon energy sources, as well as the additional benefits to create jobs and have a positive effect on the environment. These sustainability issues are my passion.”