War on waste: perspectives on supporting and formalising informal solid waste pickers in Johannesburg, South Africa

Mvuyane, Anele Thandeka Treasure
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The informal solid waste management sector has become an income generation platform for a number of unemployed residents of South Africa. The recycling of waste has increased in many South African cities and more specifically in Johannesburg where the unemployment rate continues to rise. As such, the streets of Johannesburg are decorated with waste pickers, pushing and pulling trollies filled with recyclable materials, with the end goal of making an income. Evidence in literature has revealed that waste picking has both economic as well as environmental benefits. However, despite the contribution that waste pickers have towards waste management and environmental landscape protection within the city, local legislation and policy has failed to recognize their role within the formal solid waste management sector. Although scholars have investigated the possibility of integrating waste pickers into the formal municipal waste management sector, little has been done on findings methods and strategies that may not necessarily require integration but rather the provision of support to organise and formalise waste pickers. This research explored institutional strategies within which waste pickers can be formalised and organised. It investigated the barriers and challenges that exist towards the formalisation and supporting of waste pickers. The findings of the research revealed that, there is a need to support waste pickers, there is a need to formalise and organise waste pickers to give them a greater voice in society and to protect them from exploitation. More attention is needed in the formalisation of waste pickers and organising them into cooperatives which have a better prospect in bringing sustainable livelihoods and social acceptance of waste pickers. It is also vital to note that, formalising through cooperatives is not a ‘one-size’ fits all approach, all cities and municipalities should develop a fit for purpose method suitably structured for their local context.
in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science. School of Animal, Plant and Environmental Sciences, 2018
Mvuyane, Anele Thandeka Treasure, (2018) War on waste: perspectives on supporting and formalising informal solid waste pickers in Johannesburg, South Africa, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, https://hdl.handle.net/10539/26724.