Joburg pushing ahead with waste reclaimers

“Empowering waste reclaimers is one of the many ways that the City of Johannesburg has chosen to minimise waste to landfill and to create sustainable jobs while making Johannesburg a world class city” said Councillor JJ Thomo at the launch of the City of Johannesburg Waste Reclaimers Empowerment Project.

PETCO is pleased to be a part of the City of Johannesburg Waste Reclaimers Empowerment Project which was launched by Councillor Matshidiso Mfikoe, Member of the Mayoral Committee for Environment and Infrastructure Services Department of the City of Johannesburg (COJ) at a recent event held on 31 January 2014 in Braamfontein.

“The Waste Reclaimers Empowerment Project is more of a partnership than an empowerment program” said COJ Waste Management and Regulation Director Makhosazana Baker when speaking of the project partners PETCO, PIKITUP and the Department of Economic Development.

PETCO donated 50 branded trolleys that have been given to reclaimers working in Johannesburg city centre. The trolleys are to be used for the transportation of the recyclables collected. The team has also trained 300 trolley reclaimers.

In what is often seen as “dirty work”, reclaimers, or selective waste pickers, sort through and collect recyclables from waste. The reclaimers are highly effective and reach greater areas in the city and areas where traditional waste collection does not. They are also vital links in the value chain, contributing to environmental sustainability by reducing the amount of waste that goes to landfill and providing material for recycling processes.

Many municipalities are not in favour of supporting reclaimers, but in a bold move the COJ has opted to work with these reclaimers who sustain a livelihood from this practice. In meeting their mandate set by the National Waste Management strategy, the COJ has set targets through their Integrated Waste Management Plan to divert 20% of waste from landfill by 2015 and simultaneously create 4 000 sustainable jobs in the waste sector.

Time to empower our waste reclaimers

“Empowering waste reclaimers is one of the many ways that the City of Johannesburg has chosen to minimise waste to landfill and to create sustainable jobs while making Johannesburg a world class city” said Councillor JJ Thomo at the launch event.

There are thousands of waste reclaimers actively involved in waste recovery on the streets, landfill sites and in kerbside collection around Johannesburg, with almost 7% of waste diverted from the landfill sites in Gauteng being attributed to their activities. Most of the reclaimers are still operating as individuals and are not part of a cooperative.

Cooperatives have the potential to enhance sustainability of the reclaimers’ livelihoods by affording them access to shared logistics and infrastructure, information sharing and collective bargaining ensuring a more steady income for the members.

By tapping into their collective creativity and entrepreneurial abilities, the reclaimers have formalised themselves and elected a Reclaimers Committee to represent them in strategic meetings with the City of Johannesburg Municipality and the recycling industry. As part of the project rollout, a buy-back centre will be established under the Reclaimers Committee.

“Partnerships stand to amplify mutual interests and success and PETCO is proud to be supporting the Waste Reclaimers Empowerment Project, highlighting the valuable link our collectors serve in the value chain, enabling the recycling of PET, boosting the economy, creating jobs and sustainable livelihoods, while reducing poverty and conserving the environment” says Cheri Scholtz, CEO of PETCO.

For more information head over to www.petco.co.za, or see ‘The Story of PET Bottle Collection,’ which gives a face to the collection industry and shows how collection of plastic bottles for recycling is changing the lives of many:

Like it? Share it!