CEO’s innovative approach to recycling waste tyres has resulted in the handover of a prestigious award valued locally and internationally.

It is with great pride that Van Dyck announces that its CEO, Dr Mehran Zarrebini, received an award as a finalist at the Association of MBA Schools Entrepreneurial Venture Award for 2014. The gala dinner was held at the prestigious Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) in London on the 30th of October 2014 and was attended by Deans and Directors of business schools from more than 70 countries and representing 200 business schools.

The Association of MBAs has developed the MBA Entrepreneurial Venture Award to encourage and promote the value of entrepreneurship in the current competitive climate and to highlight its importance in the global market. As such, it is a celebration of entrepreneurship and aims to support business schools that encourage this, while acknowledging and rewarding creativity among MBAs.

Dr Zarrebini, who completed his MBA (Cum Laude) in 2013 at the University of Stellenbosch Business School, developed a novel application for recycling waste truck tyres. Making use of his knowledge in management and experience working at Van Dyck, he has been able to successfully find innovative ways of increasing Van Dyck Carpet’s product offerings whilst having a positive impact on the environment and country at large.

A sister company of Van Dyck, ‘Mathe Group (Pty) Ltd’, is now affiliated to the Recycling Economic Development Initiative of South Africa (REDISA) – a plan approved by the South African government to manage the recycling of waste tyres. This is how the company plays its part in helping South Africa clean up the environment while at the same time creating jobs in the process.

The company was founded in 2010 by Vusumuzi Mathe and commenced manufacturing rubber granulate in late 2011. PFE International Inc’s group of companies (the holding company of Van Dyck) purchased Mathe Group (Pty) Ltd in January 2014. The intention was to secure rubber granulate supply for the manufacture of novel acoustic underlays (EcoLay and InstaLay) for the global flooring market.

These products were developed and first manufactured at Van Dyck in 2012, while rubber granulate was purchased from local producers in Johannesburg, Cape Town and also imported from Europe. With increasing global demand for acoustic underlays, it was decided that a joint venture be pursued to ensure the continuous supply of rubber granulate, with the potential to further develop complementary and innovative products.

Currently, Mathe Group now reclaims and recycles over 25 000 post-consumer truck tyres per annum in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), preventing these tyres from being dumped in residential, industrial and rural areas of KZN, which adversely affects the environment and creates unnecessary health hazards for the communities living in these areas.

The process involved to reduce a complete truck tyre to a fine-quality rubber crumb is essentially a straightforward one, requiring size reduction, separation and refining. The truck tyres are collected from various depots throughout KZN and processed in the manufacturing facility in New Germany, KZN.

Since September 2014, tyres have been collected at REDISA-registered depots that are strategically located throughout South Africa and delivered to Mathe Group. Mathe Group is the only Ethekwini licensed recycler in KZN. For this reason, the Mathe Group’s costs associated with transport and the collection of tyres have been significantly reduced. The company has invested in state of the art machinery and equipment, which will be installed at its new premises in Hammarsdale in 2015. The new factory will be the largest and most modern tyre recycling plant in Africa.

The tyres used are radial truck tyres, as these contain rubber and steel, and no other recyclable materials such as fibre. Mathe Group is able to achieve 100% recycling of rubber and steel. The raw material passes through a series of phases from initial cleaning, size reduction to final granulation and grading. Mathe Group’s shredders and granulators are complemented by a comprehensive system of magnetic separators to ensure that the final product contains the minimum of contaminates and is free of steel. Any steel that is separated is collected and sold to other recyclers.

Rubber crumb granules are used in a variety of applications including sports surfaces, pathways, practice pitches, children’s play areas, carpet underlay, modified asphalt and many other industrial applications.

The rubber crumb is used by Van Dyck to manufacture their quality range of underlays, EcoLay and InstaLay (peel & stick), and can be installed beneath all types of soft and hard floorcoverings. According to Van Dyck, these recycled rubber underlays are growing rapidly in popularity, with Van Dyck not only supplying the local market but also other markets in the USA, the Middle East, Australia, Korea, the UK and Europe.

This international award nomination received by Dr Zarrebini has enabled Van Dyck to place their numerous product offerings, especially as regards tyre recycling, firmly in the spotlight. The award therefore not only reconfirms the vision and mission of the company as a world-class manufacturer of soft floorcoverings that are affordable, durable and environmentally friendly, but also communicates to the rest of the world what South Africa is capable of in terms of entrepreneurship, innovation and inspiring business ventures.

“I am very grateful to the Association of MBAs for the Entrepreneurial Venture Award nomination,” Dr Zarrebini concludes. “The business that was nominated addresses the three pillars of sustainability, with particular emphasis on creating value from waste material – a fundamental problem facing South Africa. I am proud to represent Stellenbosch Business School at this prestigious international event.”