On 4 July 2018, SERI researcher, Kelebogile Khunou, was interviewed on John Maytham's Afternoon Drive show on Cape Talk radio, where she discussed the City of Johannesburg's new recycling plans and how these plans are likely to side-line and threaten the livelihoods of waste reclaimers.
Over 10,000 people make a living as waste reclaimers or informal recyclers in Johannesburg. However, the City of Johannesburg's new separation at source initiative may hamper this vulnerable group's ability to earn a living.
During the interview, Khunou noted that while Johannesburg's separation at source initiative seems, on the face of it, to be a good idea "the way the City is going about it, threatens the livelihoods of thousands of people who have actually been providing Johannesburg residents with recycling services for decades." She highlighted a recent survey conducted by Women in Informal Employment Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO), which found that waste reclaimers have lost about 60% of their incomes since the introduction of the City's separation at Source programme.
Khunou also address the stigma many waste reclaimers face and said that we have to recognise the value of waste relcaimers' work. As she noted:
"Without a separation at source programme or anything similar, South Africa has been able to collect recyclables at a rate of 57% which is among the highest in the world. Our rates surpass countries like Brazil and India and fall just behind Europe and the US. And the peope who have developed the recycling industry in South Africa are the very same people that people regard as 'criminals' and a 'blight' on our cities."