Mar 2024 Special edition

GreenMovement repurposes sawdust into firewood

Written by Sihle Manda

The fortunes of a budding recycling company changed for the better in 2016 after an opportunity landed on its lap by pure luck.

Founded by Zethu Kunene in 2012, GreenMovement Energy started as a recycling company that collected waste from residential and business dustbins.

Today, the Springs-based company produces the woodie, a low-carbon, high-thermal alternative to traditional coal, crafted from alien invasive tree species, waste timber, and other organic sources.


Speaking to Vuk’uzenzele, company executive director for sales and logistics, Bonolo Vilane, said the company at the time collected any recyclables they could get their hands on. He said the idea for the woodie originated when a stakeholder offered cardboard waste to GreenMovement only if they took sawdust as well. This sparked innovative research and development that led to the product's creation.

The group then began to research innovative ways of using the waste.

“The problem we had at the time was that because we were using Zethu’s backyard, we didn’t have enough machinery to compress the sawdust and turn it into wood pallets. We had to find innovative ways of binding the sawdust and turning it into energy fuel,” he said.

The team then spent more time exploring further possibilities to exploit. The initial prototype developed was abandoned after it proved a failure.

“We had to go back to the drawing board and do more research. We eventually came to what we have now, which is the woodie,” he said. 

Gaining traction

While the business started to sell the product in 2016, it was not until 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown did it begin to gain traction.

“That was when we got our breakthrough. We first introduced it to the township market. During this period people couldn’t get access to their normal fuel sources,” he said.

“We took the opportunity to have a social presence where we had a lot of social media campaigns and we partnered up with a few non-governmental organisations that were doing food drives.”

Currently, the business employs five people while four are roped-in on a needs basis.

The company was recently part of six small businesses, within the green energy sector, that showcased their technology and services at the recent Africa Energy Indaba, as part of the Energy and Water Sector Education and Training Authority’s (EWSETA) Small Medium and Micro Enterprise (SMME) Village.

The SMME Village at the Indaba provided small businesses access to the African energy market.

The EWSETA said in a statement that it recognises that capacitating SMMEs in the energy sector will facilitate technology transfer, create jobs, drive innovation and contribute to environmental sustainability in the country

Vilane expressed gratitude at GreenMovement’s involvement in the SMME Village, saying it was an opportunity for the start-up to market itself and interact with industry leaders. 

To get in touch with GreenMovement Energy, visit the company’s website at: or send an email to:

For more information on the EWSETA, call +27 11 274-4700 or send an email to

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