Waste pickers: uniting for their rights

2009-07-02 00:00

WASTE pickers from Pietermaritzburg are joining about 120 of their counterparts from more than 50 waste landfill sites across the country at a meeting in Johannesburg this week.

They will work on strategies to ensure that the government does not take their means of income away from them and criminalise their livelihood of waste picking for recycling.

groundWork, a local environmental justice organisation, has lobbied the government to recognise people who earn a livelihood from collecting waste from landfill sites.

As a result, the new National Environmental Management: Waste Act considers people (salvagers) who earn a living from reclaiming waste from landfill sites, said Bobby Peek, a director of groundWork.

“Most waste pickers are not on site for old food collection but mainly for collecting recyclables such as plastic, paper, cardboard and metals. These recyclables are exchanged for money, making these people entrepreneurs …”

 

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