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Young people encouraged to find opportunities from waste

Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa encouraged entrepreneurs to look to the R25 billion waste sector for business opportunities in the recycling economy during the Annual Waste Khoro held in Durban. The waste sector has been identified as a critical sector which has the potential to contribute substantially to economic growth. Micro collectors are key to the waste sector and contribute to higher levels of recycling, helping divert waste that would go to landfills.
Phumla Hlathuka, who is 28, is one of the micro collectors in Soweto who has found an opportunity from waste. Since becoming a micro collector, Phumla and her colleagues have registered their cooperative Great Opportunity. When they started, some of their community members laughed at them as they did not see the value in the work of a micro collector but, a year later, they are still going strong.

A great opportunity


Hlathuka says, “I am very happy about the opportunity I have found, not only for myself but for my family as well, through the REDISA micro collector programme. My life has changed for the better as I now have income that I can rely on and do not have to borrow money.”

In terms of the challenges she has experienced Hlathuka said, “When I started over a year ago I was ridiculed for being a micro collector and people thought I wouldn’t survive because it was a dirty job. As more people realise the changes not only in my life but also in our community since the development of the cooperative, more people have been encouraged to register with REDISA as micro collectors.”

Great Opportunity collect mainly in the Johannesburg CBD, Germiston and Freedom Park. The cooperative has seven members - four women and three men - and they hope to one day expand and register a cooperative business account so that they can raise capital. Hlathuka has also encouraged her mother and other community members to register with REDISA.

“We believe that waste picking offers individuals a means to make a living, regardless of age, level of education or skills set, and it will especially assist us in dealing with the challenge of low-skilled unemployment in the country. It is imperative that micro collectors be considered and included in future waste management plans and that they are given the security and recognition they deserve for the role they play in our economy. Through our micro collector programme, we are working on formalising the industry and providing the micro collectors with the support and training they need,” said REDISA director, Stacey Davidson.
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