Recycling value chain reality: exploring the lived experiences of primary collectors in eThekwini Municipality.
Khumalo, Sanelile Bongeka.
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Waste management is still a challenge for both developed and developing world. Municipalities find waste management difficult to manage. In South Africa, there are high rates of unemployment and poverty. The government is still trying to address these socio-economic issues, with no success. This has resulted people, especially the youth participating in the informal economy. Recycling tends to be the only solution to the shortage of landfill sites. Primary collection of waste for recycling is informally practiced by individuals with the purpose of getting an income. Primary collectors are independent. This study focused on the recycling value chain by exploring the lived experiences of primary collectors in EThekwini Municipality. The study made use of qualitative research design. Data was gathered through both primary, secondary sources and through observations. Interviews with a sample of 20 participants were conducted. Participants were recruited through the help of the buyers of recyclable materials. The reason for this was to get participants who can provide necessary and rich information for the study. The study revealed that there is a need for policy makers to do research on the effectiveness of informal collecting for recycling and incorporate primary collectors in policies. Awareness campaigns and training residents must be a priority for the municipality towards achieving being the green city with friendly environment in a health and peaceful manner. Primary collectors in the city experience abuse from the municipal officials, specifically the metro police, municipal security and the society. The study discovered that primary collectors only feel safe in the hands of their buyers (buy-back centres and secondary collectors). Primary collectors are aware of dangers associated with their work, which includes stigma and health issues.