Friday 07 September 2012


groundWork, Friends of the Earth South Africa
South African Waste Pickers Association

SAWPA Members gather in KZN for Waste Pickers first national exchange

groundWork [1], Friends of the Earth South Africa, invites all media to attend the National Waste Pickers Exchange co-ordinated by groundWork and  the South African Waste Pickers Association (SAWPA) [2]. This is the first of its kind since SAWPA's inception in 2009, and will bring waste pickers from across the country to share skills, ideas and maximise local economic opportunities for waste pickers.

Waste picking is increasingly becoming a viable source of income for those who are disadvantaged and marginalised in our society. SAWPA fights for the rights of waste pickers to become organised and reclaim their livelihoods through waste picking and recycling. The National Exchange will be held at the Mooi River and Pietermaritzburg landfill sites, where local and district municipalities and groundWork are assisting the waste picker cooperatives that are part of SAWPA to better secure a future in waste picking.

A Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) [3] is currently under construction at the Mooi River landfill site, where a ten person waste picker cooperative will be able to work in safer conditions, recycle more and thus earn more money, while saving the landfill space by reducing waste being dumped, and resulting in reductions of toxic greenhouse gas production and a cleaner environment. SAWPA sees this pilot project at Mooi River acting as a partnership model for the social economy Minister Patel recently called for, being expressed in the work on landfill sites across the country, starting at the Pietermaritzburg New England Road landfill site where construction of a MRF will begin in the near future.

Simon Mbata, president of SAWPA, and Musa Chamane, Waste Campaign Manager at groundWork, will address and engage with the waste pickers at the two landfill sites.


Date: Monday, 10 September 2012
Place: Mooi River landfill site
Time: 10h00 – 12h00
Place: Pietermaritzburg landfill site
Time: 13h30 – 16h00


[1] groundWork is an environmental justice organization working with community people from around South Africa and increasingly in Southern Africa on environmental justice and human rights issue focusing on Air Quality, Climate Justice and Energy, Waste and Environmental Health. groundWork is a member of Friends of the Earth International

[2] The South African Waste Pickers Association is a movement of people working on waste dumps and in streets collecting waste and earning an income from selling this waste material for recycling.

[3] A materials recovery facility is a specialised plant that reduces municipal solid waste going to landfills by receiving recyclable materials and preparing them for end-user manufacturers.

For information, please contact:

Megan Lewis
Media Campaign, groundWork, Friends of the Earth South Africa

Email: or Cell: 033 342 5662