Pretoria � The livelihoods and safety of 15 individuals will significantly improve, thanks to the new waste pickers' trolleys that were donated to the South African Waste Pickers Association in Mooi River, KwaZulu-Natal.
Environmental Affairs Deputy Minister Barbara Thomson on Thursday handed over waste pickers' trolleys at Bruntville Sports Ground, as part of government's Imbizo Focus Week.
The department said waste picking is a livelihood that is accessible to marginalised individuals of society.
These individuals have in the past converted retail store trolleys into a convenient mode of transport to move the collected waste material to a buy-back centre with ease, the department said on Thursday.
The coming into effect of the National Environmental Management: Waste Act (NEMWA), 2008 (Act No. 59 of 2008) on 1 July 2009 brought about a significant policy shift for waste management in South Africa.
This introduced the waste management hierarchy approach which advocates for waste avoidance, reduction, reuse, recycling, recovery as priority options before treatment and disposal of waste, which is the last resort, the department said.
Speaking at the event, Deputy Minister Thomson highlighted the importance of supporting waste management initiatives as they contribute to job creation.
Recycling has enormous economic potential. Conservative estimates put the financial value of the formal South African waste sector at R15 billion. It is time that we wake up to this economic potential of recycling.
The Deputy Minister called on local businesses and entrepreneurs to explore the economic opportunities provided through waste recycling and for the involvement of youth and women, as they are most affected by unemployment and poverty.
The Department of Environmental Affairs has undertaken law reforms to accelerate economic growth in the waste sector, focusing on waste collection and recycling.
The National Environmental Management Waste Amendment Act, 2014 (Act No. 26 of 2014) was passed on 2 June 2014. The act provides for the establishment of a pricing strategy for waste management charges, as well as institutional mechanisms in the form of the Waste Management Bureau, which will fast track the implementation of the recycling economy in South Africa.
The South African Waste Pickers' Association, Groundwork, Petco and MPACT are among the organisations that have partnered with the Department of Environmental Affairs to support emerging waste pickers, including through this handover initiative.
Despite a total estimated value of R25 billion to the South African economy, the current rate of waste recycling has not been maximised.
The event, which is part of the sixth National Imbizo Focus Week, served as an opportunity for government's recognition of the important role that waste pickers play in the recycling industry.
Themed 'Together we move South Africa forward: Our future � make it work', the Imbizo Focus Week seeks to promote public participation and ensures that voices and perspectives of communities are heard.
Source: South African Government News Agency