Life On The Job

Le Ho (1981 - ) Owner of one of the largest privately owned and operated waste management companies in Sydney.

(Source: Daily Mail UK)


Le Ho is a Vietnamese refugee who took over a commercial waste management company for recyclables in Sydney and turned it into a multi-million dollar company with expansion plans to other states this year.

“Le’s a really special woman to me because she came here as a migrant -- and we know now 30 percent of SMEs are either owned by migrants or children of migrants so we have a really high growth area there that we need to acknowledge,” she said.

“So for her to go through that by definition makes her tenacious. To take on a business that is male dominated but also go through the journey she’s had to come and prosper in Australia, it makes me a proud Australian.

With bins

“She has this attitude that she will never, ever give up. When she started with the business in 2010 she had just had a baby, and then she tackled a male-dominated industry with hardly any capital and she was running it from her car -- she didn’t even have an office. Even when she was turning over $5 million she was still running it from her car.

“It’s a highly unusual industry but she saw an opportunity and she knew she could turn it around because of her tenaciousness and skills and attitude and that’s exactly what she did.”
(Source: Huffington Post)

Generation Y female entrepreneur, Le Ho, who owns the company Capital City Waste Services is featured in #IfSheCanICan, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. She says she would “get in the truck at 6am” because people in the male-dominated industry “were making bets on how long it would take me to go under”. (Source: SMH)

Baby Le Ho
She was 18 days old when she arrived on a fishing boat with her parents as Vietnamese migrants.

Experiences and Opportunities

Le Ho has been the Director of Capital City Waste Services Pty Ltd since January 2009 when she brought the company for $50K.

Previously, she designed and manufactured evening and bridal dresses and opened a total of 6 shops throughout Sydney under the HoneyBee brand.
(Source: LinkedIn)


Le Ho studied at the University of Sydney.

Did You Know?

Ho has always had an entrepreneurial streak, starting her first business, a bridal store at 20 years old.

"In six years I grew that to six retail stores but the market for internet shopping changed things dramatically," Ho says.

"I wanted to find a business that, whatever the economy, would be there would always be demand for it."

Losing $20,000 a month

It turns out the answer was waste management, with Ho first coming across Capital City when she helped oversee the business for a "friend and mentor" who was a director and had to go overseas.

Ho says the business was losing about $20,000 a month and "on the brink of liquidation" when she agreed to buy it for $50,000.

"I decided to take a leap of faith and buy it out," she says. "I had to take on board the risk of continually losing money if my strategies did work. I bought out all the shareholders and in the first month I turned it around to break even."

Ho had to get rid of costs immediately so she took on all roles in the business from accounts, to sales, to driving a truck.

She ran Capital City from the boot of her car starting the day with a waste collection run then changing clothes to go to meetings and find new customers. Evenings were spent doing the books and sending emails.

"For me it was about working 18 hours a day for the first 12 months," she says.

Ho picked the right industry with IBISWorld analysis valuing solid waste collection services at $6.2 billion for 2015-2016 and predicting annual growth of 3.8 per cent in the future.

"A lot of people didn't want to deal with me"

Various Trucks

However Ho says she faced discrimination starting out in a male-dominated industry.

"Given my young age when I went into owning a waste management business I was always dealing with men in their 50s and 60s who had been in the industry for 30 to 40 years," she says. "People were making bets on how long it would take me to go under."

The chilly reception only inspired Ho.

"That was a driving force for me to get in the truck at 6am," she says. "I had a lot of people who didn't want to deal with me as they thought I would be here one day and gone the next. I certainly had to prove who I was and what I was capable of."

The lucky country

Ho was only 18 days old when her parents fled Vietnam and she says her family was one of the "lucky few" to reach Australia.

Their courage has inspired her.

"For me, I faced barriers being an immigrant from Vietnam, being a woman in a male-dominated industry and being Asian which was unheard of [in the industry]," she says.

"I think Australia is certainly changing, when I grew up my parents said to me I needed to study, go to university, get a degree and find a husband to look after me for the rest of my life. Growing up I saw the opportunities Australia could provide me and saw anything a man could do, I could do as well."

Ho's son was only six months old when she took over Capital City and she says particularly at the start it was a challenge to find the right balance of being there for him and managing her business.
(Source: SMH)


ABC: Radio National

Radio National
Capital City Waste Services Website

Capital City Waste Services
Sydney Morning Herald: Garbage queen's $10 million business
23 November 2015

Rare Birds Conference 2016

Rare Birds


Battery Recycling? Too hard or an opportunity?

PrimaryPrimary  MiddleMiddle High SchoolSecondary

CriticalAustralian Curriculum General Capability: Critical and creative thinking
Personal and social capability
Australian Curriculum General Capability: Personal and social capability

Ethical Understanding Australian Curriculum General Capability: Ethical Understanding

NumeracyAustralian Curriculum General Capability: Numeracy

ICT Capability Australian Curriculum General Capability: ICT Capability

Australian Curriculum Cross Curriculum Priorities: Sustainability Priority

Cooperative LearningCooperative Learning Activity


Background Information

The Commonwealth Department of the Environment states:

"Batteries are sold in a national market, they contain hazardous substances which have the potential to harm the environment if they are not effectively managed, and their disposal involves a cost to governments.

There is potential to increase the recovery of resources and to reduce impacts on the environment through increased collection and recycling of end-of-life batteries. It has been estimated that only 5% of the end-of-life batteries produced every year are recycled."
(Source: Dept. Environment)

Clean Up Australia

Clean Up Australia - a leading environmental organisation states:

"Batteries are made up of heavy metals and other toxic elements, including nickel, cadmium, alkaline, mercury, nickel metal hydride, and lead acid. It is these elements that can threaten our environment if not properly discarded and/or recycled.

Unfortunately, batteries which end up in landfills and incinerators leak into the environment, causing a serious health risk to humans and animals.


Surprisingly, Australia does not currently have a national recycling scheme for non-rechargeable batteries.

As a result, leading members of the battery industry have recently joined together to investigate the initiation of a national battery collection and recycling scheme. At the moment, the only batteries that can be recycled in the country are lead-acid batteries (used in cars). All other types of batteries are either sent to local landfills or shipped to be recycled overseas." (Source: Clean Up Australia)


1. Read the following Fact Sheet (PDF) from Clean Up Australia

Fact Sheet

Summarise what you have read into 10 main facts that you found interesting. What are these key facts?

Share with a partner. Did you have the same facts? Together reduce your lists down to 5 facts that you both agree on.

As a class, combine all 5 facts and reduce it down to 10 - 15 facts.

2. You are to take on the enterprise spirit of Le and see how you would deal with the problem of only 5% of batteries being recycled.

Firstly, you need to research the problem: How many old batteries are:

  • At school
  • At each home of the students in your class?

Develop a survey individually to find out about these old batteries. Don't forget questions about re-chargeable batteries and recycling batteries too!

With a partner, select 5 questions that you both agree on.

As a class, create 10 questions that you all agree on for the class survey. Nominate two students to create the survey using Survey Monkey. You need to insert your 15 facts into the start of the survey to inform all your participants.

Survey Monkey

3. How will you get your community - class, school, neighbourhood - to use this survey? What strategies will you develop to get this community to fill out your survey? A competition? How will this work? How many responses will make this survey a worthwhile representation of what happens in your community?

Write down all your ideas and brainstorm as a class. What will your campaign look like?

4. Now that you have got most of your community to fill out your survey, what will you do with this knowledge?

You are to create a social media campaign to encourage your community, other schools and then Australia nationally to recycle their batteries!

Remember the aim is to increase the percentage of battery recycling from 5% to ??%

What social media will you use? Why?

Would you create an app? What would this app encourage?

5. Test out your campaign on your school community. How successful was it? Does it need any refinements?

6. Ask another school to use your campaign. You will need to introduce it to this next school's Principal and then with permission from them, to their whole school.

Create a persuasive argument and add images and sound bites to a Sway presentation to present to the Principal and their school community.


What was the response? What needed to change?

7. Contact the Australian Battery Recycling Initiative [ABRI] with your ideas and suggestions about how to get Australian school children helping their initiative.



8. Work out your media strategy [including traditional media - papers, radio even TV] to get other schools involved. What will this look like?


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