On Tuesday, 9 April 2019, SERI litigation fellow Khululiwe Bhengu and researcher Kelebogile Khunou attended the Department of Environmental Affairs’ National Waste Picker Integration Workshop in Pretoria. The workshop was attended by approximately 100  municipal officials, waste pickers, private sector stakeholders and members of civil society. The purpose of the workshop was to increase knowledge about waste pickers and waste picker integration and share the draft National Guidelines on Waste Picker Integration.

The workshop began with speakers from the South African Waste Pickers Association (SAWPA) and  the African Reclaimers’ Organisation (ARO), who provided insight into the contribution of waste pickers to South Africa’s waste management and recycling system and highlighted the importance of continued engagement between all stakeholders in the implementation of waste picker integration. 

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Melanie Samson and Suzall Timm from the University of the Witwatersrand, shared findings from their  “Lessons from Waste Picker Integration Initiatives” research project. They then presented on the development of  the draft national guidelines on waste picker integration, formulated by a working group including waste picker organisations, which explain what waste picker integration is, present different approaches to integration, and provide practical guidance to municipalities and industry on how to integrate waste pickers. The working group defined waste picker integration as: "…the creation of an official recycling system that values and improves the present role of waste pickers, builds on the strengths of their informal system and includes waste pickers in its design, implementation, evaluation and revision."

The workshop participants then broke up into groups and discussed specific actions related to implementing waste picker integration like registration of waste pickers in the City of Johannesburg,  the process of integration at landfill sites and transformation of the waste management system.