Integration strategy for informal waste pickers in the City of Tshwane

A viable and practical approach to waste picker integration within the waste-management value chain

project overview

Informal waste pickers play an important role in waste collection and recycling. However, their integration into the municipal waste-management value chain has been a contested and politicised issue that is also technically and economically complex.

Realising the potential that waste pickers (also known as reclaimers) can bring to the waste-management value chain requires a gradual, participatory process. Much work has been done within the sector by member organisations, industry, municipalities, policymakers and researchers. This project built on these existing guidelines and focused on the sustainable employment of waste pickers.

The project proposed meaningful guidelines for the integration of informal waste picking into the waste-management value chain. The goal was to not only influence policy and practice within the City of Tshwane but also to engage with the August 2020 document Waste Picker Integration Guidelines for South Africa, an evidence-based guideline produced by the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE) and the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI).


More about the project

The aim of this project was to pilot the integration of informal waste pickers and waste-picker cooperatives into the waste value chain within the City of Tshwane. The project built on existing structures and relationships between the City and informal recyclers to develop a viable and practical approach to waste-picker integration. It took a context-sensitive approach to the implementation of the national guidelines on waste-picker integration.

Project impact
A focus on formally integrating waste pickers into the waste-management value chain will not only improve job security, it will also positively influence the green economy, enhance our efforts to combat climate change, and impact health and cleanliness in our cities.

Results from the pilot project have been shared and may have wider implications for other metros. National Treasury will be conducting a feasibility study with the City with a view to pilot the implementation of the waste picker integration framework.  

Project Timeline

October 2020: Start of project.

February 2021: Stakeholder workshop with representatives from waste-picker associations and cooperatives, decision-makers from recycling companies, paper and packaging industry associations, buy-back centres, landfill owners, experts and NGOs operating in this sector, and representatives of the City of Tshwane, the Gauteng provincial government and national government departments.

The aim of the workshop was to:
1. validate and augment the findings and insights obtained during the stakeholder consultations and from desktop research; and
2. discuss best practice, case studies and principles, which would inform the integration strategy proposal.

March 2021: Design workshop (which followed an extensive stakeholder consultation process analysis).

The aim of the workshop was to:
1. present the proposed model for the integration of informal and formal waste recyclers in the waste value chain within the City of Tshwane; and
2. discuss the model and obtain inputs from stakeholders and ensure there was alignment with existing policies and programmes.

project outputs

A stakeholder workshop for the integration of waste pickers and the development of a business model

February 11, 2021

The aim of this workshop was to validate and augment the findings and insights from stakeholder consultations and desktop research. Best practices, case studies and principles were presented to inform the integration strategy proposal.


Waste Picker Integration Guidelines for South Africa

August 1, 2020

These guidelines aim to support the implementation of South Africa’s National Waste Management Strategy. They contribute towards a just transition to a low carbon economy as outlined in the National Development Plan – Vision 2030, and to a more circular economy as outlined in the White Paper on Science Technology and Innovation. This CBPEP project engaged with this evidence-based document in developing the waste pickers integration strategy for the city of Tshwane.


Waste Picker Integration pilot project completion report

This project involved the development of an integration strategy and business model for waste picker integration in the City of Tshwane. It resulted in a case study and good practice guidelines to inform Waste Picker Integration in other municipalities. This completion report provides the project findings and observations.


Business model report for Waste Picker Integration

The business model report for the City of Tshwane’s Waste Picker Integration strategy includes an in-depth assessment of informal waste management. It addresses the interface with commercial waste management operators and potential climate change linkages in the green economy. It also outlines a capacity building and knowledge management strategy to promote wider learning within the local government environment.

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