Concerns over waste pickers

2015-07-01 06:05
PHOTO: supplied


Waste pickers at the New England Road landfill site

PHOTO: supplied Waste pickers at the New England Road landfill site

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THE public have raised concerns about the state of the New England Road landfill site and the safety of those driving into the site and waste pickers who collect the recyclable waste from the dump.

In a recent post on Facebook pictures were posted showing how the waste pickers went through the rubbish looking for recyclable goods they can trade in for money.

Many members of the public criticised them about this without taking into account that this is their job.

Megan Lewis, spokesperson for groundWorks, said that according to the municipality waste pickers are allowed on the landfill however, this does pose a threat for them in terms of their safety.

The South African Waste Pickers’ Association and groundWork advocate for recycling facilities such as materials recovery facilities (MRF) to be built by the municipality to support this livelihood strategy.

An MRF is a buy-back centre and a composting facility next to the landfill site which means waste pickers will no longer be subjected to the dangerous working conditions of a landfill, but will divert recyclables to be sold.

“Waste pickers will be provided with safe working conditions in a more formal and organised manner. Waste picking is important to waste management and job creation, as it means items that can be recycled are making more landfill space for non-recyclables, and with such a high unemployment rate, it provides work for the most impoverished,” said Lewis.

Lewis said that in the case of Pietermaritzburg, the waste picker co-operative, Hlanganani ma-Africa, have been urging the municipality to fulfil the funding requirements set out by the provincial Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs funding mandate to build an MRF.

“They have been waiting for about three years however, inter-municipal conflict means that this project is not moving forward,” she said

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