Recycling a vital source of income for local waste pickers

2018-03-23 13:33
Simphiwe Mnguni (32) from KwaPata waits for his cardboards to be weighed at recycling depot in Pietermaritz Street.

Simphiwe Mnguni (32) from KwaPata waits for his cardboards to be weighed at recycling depot in Pietermaritz Street. (Ian Carbutt )

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Waste pickers drag their big sacks across the street and enter the recycling depot in Pietermaritz Street.

They bend over and start digging through their sacks, sorting out cardboard from bottles.

Lindokuhle Sithole, from Esigodin in Edendale, said he collects and picks up recyclables because he does not want to get into crime.

“I’d rather recycle instead of stealing and robbing people, plus I make decent money in this business so I’m satisfied,” he said.

Thabani Ndlovu, from Caluza, emphasised that there are no jobs and he’d rather recycle because no qualifications are needed for this job.

“I get my cardboard and other recyclables at stores and on the road. Some people get theirs as far as Scottsville and drag them here. It’s also part of cleaning town and one just needs to be active and look around for recyclables,” said Ndlovu.

Recyling is a vital initiative in Pietermaritzburg where litter remains a prominent issue.

Owner of a recycling depot in Pietermaritz Street, Mphakamisi Chili, said that recycling is important because it protects the environment and provides job opportunities.

Chili also said recycling is important because it can prevent the waste of potentially useful materials and reduce the consumption of fresh raw materials.

“Recycling is the reduction of waste going to the landfill. There are people at landfills digging through for recyclables and would be harmed by dangerous gases in the unhygienic conditions.

“It is good money for people who bring in their recyclables, as is a business opportunity for those willing to run a recycling depot,” he said.

General manager of Central Waste Paper, Kelvin Lloys-Ellis, said they had a recycling bin at the university, but it was burnt down.

“We also had a buy-back centre in Greyling Street but we were pressured by the municipality to close it because it attracted vagrants,” he said.

Chili said people don’t understand environmental problems and therefore unknowingly harm the environment.

He said his wish is to expand his business to the townships, but first he would like to create recycling and littering awareness in those areas­.

“My wish is to expand to the township but first I need to conduct an environmental awareness especially in the townships to educate people and let them know that trash is money,” he said.

Lloys-Ellis added that education can help more people understand recycling and be aware that almost everything is recyclable, even trees.

For all those interested in opening recycling depots, Chili advised that all businesses need skills, and that people have to understand the system and nature of the business.

“People need to know cash flow. The basics of mathematics, accounting and economics skills are also needed because the recycling business is all about supply and demand.

“People need to know how to balance and think strategically in order for the business not to die out,” he said.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  recycling

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