Vaalpark reclaimers’ lockdown plight eased

Vaalpark reclaimers’ lockdown plight eased
09 Apr 2020

Vaalpark reclaimers’ lockdown plight eased

The families of 240 reclaimers receive food voucher donations

(Johannesburg) – The Covid-19 lockdown plight of 240 reclaimers and their families in Sasolburg has been eased slightly thanks to the donation of food vouchers by national PET plastic recycling body PETCO and the South African Waste Pickers Association.

The recipients of the vouchers belong to the landfill pickers, the Sasolburg street pickers and members of the Ikageng Ditamating Co-operative who prior to the lockdown worked at the Vaalpark landfill site, collecting recyclables from households in the area. They were responsible for sorting recyclable materials, baling them, then selling them to recyclers who re-process the recyclate.

“Due to the Covid-19 lockdown and the exclusion of recycling as an essential service for health and safety reasons, these co-operative members and many other reclaimers in the vicinity are experiencing extreme hardship with no source of income,” said PETCO CEO Cheri Scholtz.

The co-operative had also been instrumental in assisting fellow reclaimers in forming and registering their own co-operatives, and working with them to sort recyclate at the Vaalpark landfill, said Scholtz.

“This donation is one of many that industry is co-ordinating under the umbrella of Packaging South Africa and the Department of Environmental Affairs,” she said.

The Vaalpark separation-at-source recycling project – which sees recyclable materials collected from almost 3,000 households around the Vaalpark residential area – was officially launched in 2014 with co-ordination and involvement from many players in the paper and packaging industry and local government, as well as the South African Waste Pickers Association (SAWPA). This followed three years of planning, preparation and resource mobilisation, Scholtz said.

“PETCO has been instrumental with support for the project through training the co-operative members and also equipment support, including a baler and ten bakkie cages which have been placed at different locations such as shopping centres and schools.

“The cages are picked up with the bakkie once they are full and are offloaded at the operational site. The reclaimers have built strong relationships with the households and have an estimated 2,800 households who voluntarily participate in their recycling programme by either putting their bins out on designated days or dropping recyclables as well as white goods – which they repair and sell off or sponsor to poor people in the community – at the recycling site.”

SAWPA chairman, Simon Mbatha, said the donations would help alleviate some of the hardships being experienced by reclaimers.

“I believe working together we can all find a solution for a waste management system in the country that will alleviate poverty for all the people who work in the waste value chain,” said Mbatha.