As a small company dealing with large projects internationally, Pasco Waste & Environmental Consulting has adopted an operating philosophy that allows it to easily slot in with the communities of the world, especially those in Africa.

Established on 1 April 2000, Pasco Consulting specialises in waste management and environmental engineering. It operates based on a variety of business models that ultimately aim to harmonise the engineering world with the social and physical environment.

Looking back on the decision to establish the business, Pieter Smuts, owner and director of Pasco Waste & Environmental Consulting, says it was no April fool’s joke. “Working in the field of civil engineering is a balancing act, especially in the waste management sector. You need to not only deliver on the engineering service that people are dependent on but also be responsive to the inputs of the communities you work in and society at large,” he explains.

“Pasco Consulting, therefore, thrives on establishing waste management systems and facilities in locations where the need is recognised, working with people of all genders and races.”

Turning to the company’s service offering, Pieter notes that Pasco Consulting offers the full ambit of waste management services – from status quo assessments, gap analyses, waste management concepts, integrated waste management to strategic development plans, including the costing and engineering designs of facilities such as transfer stations, recycling centres, landfills
and incinerators.

With a target market that includes municipalities, governments and institutions in the public and private sector in South Africa and across the African continent, Pasco Waste’s flexibility enables the company to work effectively with large local and international consulting companies as well as smaller companies or sole proprietors.

Flexibility and customer service

This flexibility is also a key aspect in what Pieter believes sets the company apart from the competition. “We believe Pasco Consulting is a flexible and mobile company providing services to clients in distant locations, which broadens our horizons due to the willingness to expose ourselves to the unknown.

“With waste management services limited across Africa, we further derive satisfaction from sharing knowledge with the clients on the continent while simultaneously establishing much-needed waste management systems and facilities.

“The fact that we are a specialist niche company ensures that we fully understand the issues at stake, building our knowledge base on a daily basis,” he asserts.

Niche know-how

While working in this niche market can be challenging from time to time, and what has kept Pasco Consulting in the game is society’s limited knowledge regarding waste management, which, according to Pieter, usually doesn’t extend past placing waste in a bin.

“It is almost as if the expression ‘out of sight, out of mind’ emanates from this industry. Most people are aware of the rubbish or garbage site, but what happens between the home and final disposal – even at the disposal site – remains a mystery to many. Nowadays, recycling has become a buzzword, yet very few know about the logistics and residual waste disposal,” he highlights.

“The development of facilities such as transfer stations and landfills is not just about the engineering development aspects – i.e. design, construction and commissioning – but includes operations and the associated training, as well as revisiting the projects to ensure the accomplishment of a client’s goals, such as environmental protection. This is where Pasco presents its knowledge base through waste management logistics and environmental engineering,” Pieter explains.

Managing customer expectations

In addition to flexibility and niche know-how, Smuts adds that the company’s approach to customer service and project planning is another distinguishing characteristic for Pasco Consulting.

“Our approach is to help our customers get what they want, knowing that we will ultimately get what we want. We realise that business is all about relationships, understanding one another’s expectations, and managing the project and client expectations right up to the commissioning of systems.

“Extensive hours are spent on projects to ensure products we take personal pride in, are delivered to clients. We service a variety of clients in many locations, which is as a result of the philosophy of not putting all your eggs in one basket.”

A strong African presence

Pasco Consulting through Pieter Smuts, has a strong presence on the African continent, having worked on a range of groundbreaking projects, including the development of a number of first sanitary landfills, in countries including Botswana, Ghana,
Lesotho, Liberia, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland and Zambia.

The company has also established itself as a leader in waste characterisation assessments across the continent. “Perhaps our largest success story on the continent was the development of a fully fledged waste management system for the city of Monrovia, Liberia. This project created jobs and played a major role in both private and public sector development while developing waste collection transfer stations and landfills.”

Looking ahead

Looking ahead, Pieter is confident of Pasco Consulting’s future. In the short term, the company is aiming to strengthen its workload to pre-2018 levels, as the company – along with many others in the sector and the country alike – has been adversely affected by negative business sentiment.

Pieter also notes that although government is trying hard to support small businesses, all is not that simple at the coalface.

“The tendering system in South Africa has its own challenges. This has made it more difficult for small companies to compete. We have often proposed projects where people could be trained on the job as part of the project scope and get paid at the same time. The reality is that client requirements seldom take this into account and thus the costing would not allow for
competitive bids.”

Turning to medium-term goals, Pieter says he would like the company to revisit its historical projects to gain insight into the effects on sustainability and learn from those, aiming to pass the knowledge on to the younger generation in the business environment.

In the long term, Pieter notes that he still sees Pasco Consulting offering its best services such as waste management strategies, planning, environmental impact assessments, licensing and engineering, while addressing
clients’ expectations.

“God willing, 2020 will be Pasco Waste’s 20th anniversary and we have been blessed with a steady flow of projects. We also hope that we can celebrate our 120th project during the year,” he concludes.