Deputy Minister of Environmental Affairs hands over 15 trolleys to the South African Waste Pickers Association in Mooi River, Kwazulu-Natal

20 April 2017


The Deputy Minister of Environmental Affairs, Ms Barbara Thomson, today, on 20 April 2017, handed over waste pickers’ trolleys to the South African Waste Pickers Association in Mooi River, KwaZulu-Natal. The event took place at the Bruntville Sports Ground.

Waste picking is a livelihood that is accessible to marginalised individuals of society. These individuals have in the past converted retail store trolleys into convenient modes of transport to move the collected waste material to a buy back centre with ease. The handover of the 15 trolleys will improve the livelihoods of 15 individuals. This will also contribute to their safety.

The coming into effect of the National Environmental Management: Waste Act, 2008 (Act No. 59 of 2008) (hereinafter referred to as the NEMWA) on 1 July 2009 brought about a significant policy shift for waste management in South Africa. This introduced the waste management hierarchy approach which advocates for waste avoidance, reduction, reuse, recycling, recovery as priority options before treatment and disposal of waste, which is the last resort.

Speaking at the event, Deputy Minister Thomson highlighted the importance of supporting waste management initiatives as they contribute to job creation and improving the quality of life for all.

The Deputy Minister said: “Recycling has enormous economic potential. Conservative estimates put the financial value of the formal South African waste sector at R15 billion. It is time that we wake up to this economic potential of recycling.”

Referring to the job creation opportunities in the sector, the Deputy Minister called on local businesses and entrepreneurs to explore the economic opportunities provided through waste recycling “and involve our youth and women in such interventions as they are most affected by unemployment and poverty”.

In this regard, The Department of Environmental Affairs has embarked on law reforms to accelerate economic growth in the waste sector focusing on waste collection and recycling. The National Environmental Management Waste Amendment Act, 2014 (Act No. 26 of 2014) was passed on 2 June 2014. The Act provides for the establishment of a Pricing Strategy for Waste Management Charges as well as the institutional mechanisms in a form of the Waste Management Bureau, which will fast track the implementation of the recycling economy in South Africa.

The South African Waste Pickers Association, Groundwork, Petco and MPACT are among the organisations that have partnered with the Department of Environmental Affairs to support emerging waste pickers, including through this handover initiative. Despite a total estimated value of R25 billion to the South African economy, the current rate of waste recycling has not been maximised.

The event served as an opportunity for government’s recognition of the important role that waste pickers play in the recycling industry.

To access a copy of the Deputy Minister’s speech, click on the link below:

>> Deputy Minister Ms Barbara Thomson’s speech during the cleanup campaign and handover of waste trolleys

For media inquiries contact

Albi Modise
Cell: 083 490 2871