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Informal Recyclers ‘refuse’ to accept unemployment

A group of informal recyclers, known as The Roadhouse Recyclers are operating under Connaught Bridge near Blue Lagoon.

IN the fourth Quarterly Labour Force Survey of 2018, Statistician-General of South Africa, Risenga Maluleke revealed unemployment rates had decreased for most South Africans, except those living in KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape. Yet as the rate of unemployment increased by 2,6 per cent in KZN, some innovative Durbanites were making a living by collecting refuse and sorting through it to find recyclable items to sell.

Margaret Burger, secretary, youth and clean up coordinator at the uMngeni Estuary Conservancy said a group of informal recyclers, known as The Roadhouse Recyclers are operating under Connaught Bridge near Blue Lagoon.

“Formalisation of a business brings with it administration and licensing as a vendor. How an individual recycler would be able to formalise without serious support, such as a non profit company acting as a go-between, I do not know,” said Burger.

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At the Lion Match office park just across the Umgeni River however an informal recycler is being supported through the collective effort of two companies and a conservancy trust.

Stephen Malatji , who once collected recyclables on the street, has become the much-loved, resident recycler at the office park.
“I have been working here since last year October. So far it has changed my situation from the level I was at, financially. This is much better, because in the street I had to walk very long distances carrying heavy loads, looking for the recycling, said Malatji.

Bradley Jacobson of JT Ross works closely with Malatji.

“Stephen has been a great help to the park and changed a lot of people’s perspectives of rubbish and where the it goes. When people are not sure about recycling, they can ask Stephen. I have seen how Stephen’s life has changed as well,” said Jacobson.

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Hanno Langenhoven, Strategic Manager of Recycling at Wildlands Conservancy Trust, said Malatji is a registered member of the Wastepreneurs project, launched by them eight years ago.

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