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


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 will build on these existing guidelines and focus on the sustainable employment of waste pickers.

Meaningful participation at all stages of the process through planning, implementation, monitoring and possible revision should include representatives from the informal sector. 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.

Unmanaged waste is not only damaging to the environment, it is also an economic loss. This project will propose meaningful guidelines for the integration of informal waste picking into the waste-management value chain. The goal is 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.

More about the project

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.

The aim of this project is to pilot the integration of informal waste pickers and waste-picker cooperatives into the waste value chain within the City of Tshwane. This project seeks to build on existing structures and relationships between the City and informal recyclers to develop a viable and practical approach to waste-picker integration.

Results will be shared and may have wider implications for other metros. It takes a context-sensitive approach to the implementation of the national guidelines on waste-picker integration.

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.


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