Simnikiwe Hlatshaneni
Premium Journalist
4 minute read
7 Nov 2021
2:01 am

Joburg’s trolley surfers: Cleaning up and creating jobs

Simnikiwe Hlatshaneni

They often face hostile security guards and law-enforcement, but Joburg's waste pickers are far more helpful than you can imagine.

Recyclers outside a scrapyard along Meikle street in Johannesburg, 5 November 202, waiting to sell their wrecycleable goods. Picture: Nigel Sibanda

In the unforgiving climate of Johannesburg's urban landscape, thousands of women and men are up at the crack of dawn, surfing the streets with make-shift trolleys, collecting recyclable goods from the bins of the affluent. Now the City of Johannesburg and Gauteng provincial government wants to invest in the informal recycling sector and move to regulate the industry in a way that can create sustainable jobs for its participants and help eliminate its numerous safety risks. Between 80% and 90% of South Africa’s consumer plastic and paper waste is collected by informal waste pickers, according to the Council for Scientific...