Media Release / Invite - groundWork/SA Waste Pickers Association

International Waste Pickers visiting South Africa

SAWPA members during an anti-incineration protest in Pretoria.

Pietermaritzburg, Monday, 22 August, 2017 - The South African Waste Pickers Association (SAWPA) [1] and groundWork [2] are hosting waste pickers from India and Brazil, from 21 – 31 August, to engage with local waste pickers, and share strategies to push back on waste privatisation, which destroys waste picker livelihoods globally and locally. Their visit will include visiting the Chemicals and Waste Phakisa meeting, visiting various landfill sites, SAWPA members and municipalities, as an important movement-building step for local waste pickers.

The international visitors have been through the challenges that come with communities organizing and creating informal labour through recycling. Many of these challenges include false perceptions about the work they do and lack of support from government, challenges that our own waste pickers face. One aspect of the international visitors trip is to attend the government led Waste Phakisa gathering, to share their success and challenges they are still faced with. This will be done in an effort to convince government and business to consider more people-centered solutions to our employment and waste challenges, solutions that empower. The visitors will be attending the five-week long Phakisa meeting on 22 August, just before it comes to an end on the 25 August. The meeting is being held in Magaliesburg and consists of local waste pickers, government, business, academics and other important stakeholders.

Wednesday, 23rd August, will see the local and international waste pickers a district municipality coordinated meeting. In attendance will be Fezile Dabi District Municipality cooperatives of waste pickers, industry and 100 cooperative representatives.  Sasolburg District Municipality is hosting a strategic meeting on recycling. They have requested that the delegation of waste pickers, come and discuss challenges with regards to recycling. This meeting will also be attended by government officials and other civil society members, and is already a huge victory for waster pickers in the area.

Other legs of the trip will include visiting Mooi River Waste Cooperative, who are making amazing strides in the Zero Waste goal, which include better waste management through reducing, reusing and recycling waste. The visitors will also visit New England Landfill site in Pietermaritzburg, that was recently engulfed the whole town in smoke when a fire broke out. The waste pickers on this site face many challenges and generally work in an unsafe and dangerous work space, with little support from the local district and local municipality, whose political squabbles jeopardised a R 21 million recycling facility project. Other visits will also include; Onderstepoort landfill site in Pretoria, Marie Louise landfill in Dobsonville, Vaal Park recycling centre in Sasolburg and many other areas.


[1] The South African Waste Pickers Association is an organised movement of people working on waste dumps and in streets collecting waste and earning an income from selling this waste material for recycling.
[2] 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 the South African member of Friends of the Earth International.



South African Waste Pickers Association and groundWork International Exchange agenda.

Profiles for international waste pickers.



For more information or to join one of the tours/ meetings, contact:

Musa Chamane, groundWork’s Waste Campaigner
Cell Number and WhatsApp: 082 380 2237