It is refuse removal day and waiting patiently on street corners with rickety wagons are informal recyclers, eying bins as they are wheeled to the curb.
Some residents view recyclers are a nuisance, suburban intruders scavenging through rubbish, however the informal recycling sector has experienced significant growth over the years, after all waste is not waste if it has value.
According to Edith Leeuta, CEO of Fibre Circle, the producer responsibility organisation for the South African paper and paper packaging sector, in terms of recycling, the value is in the material that can be sold for re-use.
“In a country with a high unemployment and poverty rate, recycling is a source of income for a number of people,” she said.
“Coupled with poor household refuse and recycling habits, the informal collection and trade of recyclables, provides a living for an estimated 60 000 to 90 000 people countrywide.”
Covering significant distances daily to ensure that they reach serviced areas before bins are emptied by municipal trucks, the collectors dig through rubbish to retrieve any waste with of monetary value.
Once sold to dedicated off-set points the material is sorted and sent to recycling mills and factories for conversion into usable and commercially viable products.
“In the case of paper, the fibre is extracted and repulped to make new paper products such as packaging or tissue,” said Leeuta.
Recycling collectors do not take all recyclables. While some items are have a higher monetary value, other items, although recycled in South Africa, may not be profitable to collector.
“Collectors will only take items they will earn money from, not those they cannot sell or are too heavy to pull over long distances,” she said.
“With a bit of kindness and thought about your own refuse habits, you can make their work a little quicker and easier.
It is a good idea to find out what your neighbourhood collectors take.”
Items that should be kept out of bins and separate for waste collector:
• Used office paper
• Brown cardboard boxes
• Food packaging such as cereal, toothpaste, pizza and takeaway boxes.
Be sure to remove all food residue.
• Paper grocery delivery and take-away bags
• Milk and juice cartons
• Plastic milk bottles
• Various sized PET soft drink bottles
• Fabric softener bottles
• Aluminium soft drink cans
• Non-perishable food tins
Golden rules for recycling
• Keep recyclable paper clean and dry
As a raw material used in new paper products, it should not be contaminated by wet and rotting food, liquids or pet waste.
• Keep recyclables and wet waste separate.
• Get a bin, box or bucket for your recyclables
Recycling containers don’t need to be fancy or expensive.
• Plastic, cans and tins should be rinsed lightly
• Get the family involved and make sure everyone knows what is recyclable.
• Put the recyclables out on your schedules refuse collection day for the collectors.
For other recyclable items, which are not collected by informal recyclers such as glass, bottle tops and e-waste residents are urged to make use of the Benoni Lakes Lions Club’s Recycling Hub at Belvedere School, Farrarmere.
Marked bins are available for these items and are regularly emptied by dedicated collectors.
Plastic bottle tops and bread tags are also welcome and are collected on behalf of Tops and Tags for Wheelchairs. For more information WhatsApp Beaulieu Mare on 082 971 5472.
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