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Making money from waste

Written by Sphelele Ngubane

People are making money from collecting waste, which is one of government’s focus areas for job creation, economic growth and protecting the environment. 

Government Communication and Information System (GCIS), in partnership with the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment (DFFE), recently hosted a free online masterclass on waste management and provided attendees with information on how to enter the sector. 

William Baloyi, the Chief Director for Media Engagement at GCIS, said waste management offers people, particularly the youth, an opportunity to earn a living.

“We see trolley pushers every morning in our communities. This can be quite a good economic activity to create jobs. Waste collection and management is readily available, we just need to start,” he said.

Thabo Magomola, the Head of the Policy, Monitoring and Evaluation Unit at the DFFE, presented government’s national waste management strategy.

“Waste is key to unlocking possible economic opportunities. There is a potential to create 150 000 jobs across the country by 2023,” he said.

The department has two initiatives in the waste management sector, namely the coordination of development opportunities for small, medium and micro enterprises, and rolling out national awareness campaigns.

A beneficiary of the department’s Recycling Enterprise Support Programme, Tshepo Mazibuko, said waste enabled him to transform his life. He went from being an unemployed graduate, to a businessman, with international business relations.

The founder of K1 Recycling in Katlehong, Gauteng, was awarded R5 million by the programme, which enabled him to expand his waste management works.

After graduating, he could not find a job and, in 2019, he approached waste pickers. “The guys were generous with information and the next morning I got myself a trolly and started picking waste. At that time, it was just to make money to keep myself and my family going,” he said.

In 2011, his wife took out a loan to buy a bakkie. Magomola registered his business, stopped collecting waste and started buying it from waster pickers.

“K1 Recycling now has a wash plant and a palletising plant in Katlehong and buys waste from 1 200 pickers,” he said.

Magomola said those wanting to get into waste management should ask their provincial departments of environment about any licences they may need. “This depends on the volume of waste processed. If the volume is small, there is no need for a licence.”

If you want to participate in the Recycling Enterprise Support Programme, monitor the Government Tender Bulletin, on the e-tender portal; and the media, for the call for proposals.