Nigerian-born Peter Olorundimu is a living testament to the fact that with a clear vision and determination, you can turn even waste into riches. Olorundimu came to Canada to attend university. He earned a degree in business with a major in computer science, graduating in 1999.
“After I finished university, I worked with companies like HP and Dell. I also worked with some property management companies, and that’s when I discovered there was a lot of waste,” Olorundimu said in a chat with newsmen.
“There are a lot of recyclables, like plastic wastes and metal wastes. At food processing plants and restaurants, there is often a lot of food waste. Only small changes are needed to reduce the amount going to landfills. I find at restaurants often about 65% is food waste and 15% are recyclables. So only about 20% is actually garbage that needs to go to the landfill. We are helping people to look differently at their waste”.
In what started in 2010 as a part-time business, Olorundimu’s Harvest Recycling has now become a full blown business that helps its clients save money by reducing waste. He began modestly with only himself and one truck, and he worked evenings and weekends while holding down a full-time job in the computer industry.
Harping on the journey in a chat with newsmen, he said “It was incredible to see how much waste was being thrown into the landfills—tons and tons of waste every month”
“I didn’t know much about recycling then, but I thought, ‘There’s something not right there, and there must be a better way.’”
He recalled that “I did sales, I did operations, I did accounting—I did everything. It was just me,” and today, the story is now an inspiration.
Olorundimu stated that three years later he left his day job to focus on his recycling company and over the years, his company has grown and now has seven full-time employees.
“Since I’ve got into it full-time, I’ve never looked back”.
On reducing the waste to landfills, he explained that “We collect different kinds of waste from different clients, then take it to the appropriate disposal site so it is disposed of appropriately”.
“Often by making minor changes, like putting in recycling bins for plastics, a lot of material can be diverted from the landfill. It’s good for the environment, and businesses can save money. We pride ourselves on what we are doing to address landfill waste.”
Harping on how they are helping businesses to reduce waste going to landfills, Olorundimu thinks people may be reluctant to recycle because they believe it would take too much time to separate their waste.
He said “In most cases, I get the impression that businesses think it would be more expensive and more time consuming to divert waste and recycle. They think it’s easier to just put everything in the trash and have it taken to the landfill. But we’ve done a lot of research to find simple and effective collection methods that make it easier to sort their waste”.
However, he said very often when businesses see what his company can do, they are open to ideas. “We have a program specifically for restaurants, and when we go to a restaurant and show them how it works, often their response is, ‘Really? Is that all?’”
Olorundimu admitted that he got help from the Business Development Bank of Canada. He noted that even with a business degree, marketing was one of his biggest challenges. “Although I had the basics, I wouldn’t say I’m the best marketer,” he said.
Then he heard about the BDC through other entrepreneurs. “I thought, ‘why wouldn’t I want to deal with an organization that is doing so much to help small businesses?’ They’re definitely on my side”.
He noted that working with BDC’s Advisory Services has been helpful in coming up with strategies for digital marketing, driving traffic to the website and doing online advertising.
“We got some ideas on how to proceed, and some practical materials that have been helping us ramp up our marketing efforts”.
That’s helped him provide added services to his clients. The focus is still on reducing landfill waste, but now Olorundimu also offers consulting to companies to advise them on better ways of handling waste. On top of recycling, businesses can also compost their organic materials.
He maintained that “We want to have more impact than just collecting waste”.
The Nigerian entrepreneur also stated that becoming more sustainable also helps his clients grow. “Over time, most people realize the value of having green measures in place and having a recycling program in place. If you do more recycling, your garbage will be reduced, which will save you money.”
The father of two’s target is to have three Harvest Recycling franchises up and running in Alberta by the end of 2023. He hopes to also expand to other provinces in Western Canada and within five years his goal is to have franchises in major cities across Canada.
Olorundimu proudly added that “Diverting waste is something you can see. I’m making an impact for future generations”.