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Exploring the role of the informal sector in municipal solid waste recycling: a case study of eThekwini Municipality.

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Informal solid waste recycling is the measure of the metropolitan setting in many South African municipalities. The eThekwini metropolitan’s waste pickers are performing a significant part in the waste management recycling. The suggestion in the data collected recommends the unlike operations with mutual environmental and economic gains, which contribute in the direction of employment and the ecological stability. In spite of the role that the informal sector plays to the waste management and social economic improvement, along with the environmental conservation, the metropolitan development policy in South Africa has failed to incorporate and include the informal sector within the municipality formal waste management system in its strategic framework. Illustration on the findings of the research study led by particular fragments of the eThekwini Municipality, and by means of different approaches stimulated by the out-dated participatory researches, the study further explored the official policies found in the informal sector that are implicit. The sample was comprised of 40 informal waste pickers who are involved in the informal solid waste recycling, 6 municipal officials, and 3 waste buy-back centres. The major solutions of this problematic matter might be the inclusion of the informal sector within the formal municipal waste management systems, through waste recycling. This can be achieved through the informal sector integration, the research further classifies the obstructions that impede the integration of the informal sector into a comprehensive municipal formal waste management system: exploitive policies, social acceptance, and absence of substantial evidence to back informal activities, illegal immigrant, and non-existence of lawful nationality documents. It is highly significant to notify that the integration of the waste pickers ought not to be grounded on a ‘universal’ exemplary, but as an alternative it should take into consideration the confined setting and circumstances.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.