City institutes mandatory recycling

Not everyone will start the programmes at once


Of the around 800 000 households in Joburg, 300 000 will get plastic bags to start mandatory recycling on 1 July, and Pikitup, the City of Johannesburg’s waste management entity, says attitudes of residents need to change to make it work.

This recycling programme, Separation at Source, is mandating households to set aside glass, paper, metal, and plastic.

Garden waste can still be separated and taken to the nearest Pikitup garden centre.

This will, in turn, reduce the 90 per cent of waste that is sent to landfills, which only has space left for the next six years.

MMC for Environment and Infrastructure Services, Nico de Jager, said affected households will get either a clear or blue plastic bag where they are expected to put all their dry-recyclables.

Other areas’ households can still separate their recyclables, but can then take them to the nearest Pikitup garden centre instead.

“At the moment, only about 10 per cent of waste is being recycled. We want to reduce the waste going to landfill sites from 90 per cent to 70 per rent by 2020,” De Jager said.

The entity plans to save 13kg of household waste per month by implementing this programme.

But Separation at Source is not new. It was piloted in 2009.

De Jager said it is unfortunate that the City is still talking about it being piloted.

Pikitup’s managing director, Lungile Dhlamini, said the biggest change will be behavioural.

“We need to win people over,” he said.

Dhlamini also pointed out that at the moment, there will not be any repercussions for households that are not recycling, but that this will not be the case in the future.

“We are looking at eventually going into a pay-as-you-throw system,” he said.

The see-through bags will be delivered by cooperatives working with the City.

The list of wards affected and of garden sites across the City is available on Pikitup’s website,

For the list of garden waste sites, you can visit for the list of suburbs affected by mandatory separation at source, you can visit

Reclaimers not affected

With the introduction of mandatory recycling in the City of Johannesburg, informal recyclers, or reclaimers, will only benefit.

This at least, according to Pikitup, who is leading the Separation at Source programme from 1 July across the City.

Pikitup’s managingg director, Lungile Dhlamini, reassured that there will be no negative impact on reclaimers with this programme amidst fears that it would leave them without waste to reclaim.

“We have representatives of the reclaimers meeting with us every month,” he said.

The reclaimers will, he added, still be included in Joburg’s recycling.

But Pikitup maintains it is important that the estimated 6 000 reclaimers organise themselves into groups so that they can better engage with the waste management entity. Nico de Jager, MMC for Environment and Infrastructure Services, said the City is aware of the great work the reclaimers do.
“We do not want to take money from anyone. Separation at Source is about including everyone.”

De Jager believes this programme will make reclaimers’ lives a lot easier.

He said the City is even looking at possibly inoculating them twice a year, as they do with their own Pikitup employees. “We are looking at corporates to provide gear like gloves so that their work is a lot safer,” he said.

But they need to be organised, Dhlamini echoed.

“We can’t sign a formal contract with an individual, we can’t organise 6 000 contracts.”

Dhlamini said, ultimately, Pikitup needs to find consensus with Joburg’s reclaimers.

What, and how, to recycle

The City of Johannesburg is implementing mandatory recycling from 1 July. We take a look at the basics of recycling and what you can and can not recycle.

Firstly, when you recycle, remember to rinse the material of any food or other products. If a recyclable is contaminated, it will likely end up on a landfill site anyway.

As for garden refuse, do not simply toss it in the bin. Residents can take this to their nearest Pikitup garden centre –find yours here:

This is also part of mandatory recycling and is used to manufacture products like compost.

Residents should only put dry recyclable waste in their recycling bags.
These include:
• Paper – newspapers, magazines, books, printer paper, cardboard, cartons
• Plastics – carry bags, beverage bottles, milk bottles, plastic toys, plastic containers
• Metal – beverage cans, food cans, metal dishes, metal pots
• Glass – glass bottles, glass jars, glass cups, glass containers.

If residents want to dispose of electronic waste like computer parts, electrical wires, and so forth, they can take them to a drop-off point found at various retailers. Often these retailers even have bring-back schemes.

Builders’ rubbles should be taken to the nearest garden site (with a maximum of one bakkie-load per resident per day) or be landfilled. These can be used as fill material during construction.

Bulky waste like furniture or large appliances can be disposed of in the same way as builders’ rubble.

As for wet waste or food waste, these are used for alternative waste treatment technologies and even be used to generate electricity.

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