African Reclaimer Organisation (ARO) chairperson Eli Kodisang is calling for additional support for waste picker organisations and waste reclaimers as part of South Africa’s journey to reducing waste.
Speaking during the virtual Plastics Colloquium on November 12, Kodisang lamented that the waste reclamation industry and its workers were still struggling with a lack of space and facilities, as well as experiencing continued difficulty in accessing municipal and government land to continue their work.
Further to this, he said there was an “ongoing prioritisation of private companies over waste pickers”, with the latter continuing to face core funding challenges, while simultaneously facing a “lack of respect” from the private industry, residents and officials.
There is also a continued exclusion from decision-making processes, he said, and while progress is being made, it is “still a challenge”.
In response to this, Kodisang suggested various mitigation measures, including a potential expansion of reclaimer-led separation-at-source projects, which he said would support waste reclaimer workers and organisations.
ARO intends to further its work in organising training and capacity building for municipalities and industry so that waste pickers are integrated into the value chain, and so that residents and officials “understand and implement” that integration.
This, Kodisang suggested, would also assist in raising awareness, while ensuring collaborative stakeholder integration initiatives.