CSIR, GreenCape and WMRIG hold workshop on informal waste sector integration
  Oct 30, 2015     Library, event, GreenCape, presentation, CSIR, recycling, policy brief

Integrating the informal and formal waste management sectors is a key challenge to address in the South African context. The informal waste sector provides income opportunities for between 60 000 and 90 000 people in the country, and supplies up to 80% of post-consumer recyclables to recyclers. 
CSIR, GreenCape and WMRIG convened a workshop looking at the challenges facing the informal sector, as well as inclusive models to support, develop and value the sector. 
Prof Catherina Schenck of UWC, Prof Derick Blaauw of NWU, Linda Godfrey of the CSIR, and Suzall Timm of UCT presented on their research related to barriers experienced by the informal sector, the usefulness of co-operatives in the space, and the role of self and external regulation of activities in the sector. 
Current models of informal sector engagement were presented by Harrington Street Buy Back Centre, PETCO, Polyco and WastePlan, while the City of Cape Town provided an overview of the City's role and plans regarding the informal sector. Spirited and insightful debate was enjoyed from ~40 attendees across academia, government, NGOs, as well as the formal waste management industry and representatives of the informal industry. 

Some key points emerged from the discussion: 

  • There is a need for clarity on what we mean by integrating the informal sector, with a general consensus that integration cannot mean formalisation. 
  • Models to value and support the informal sector within the formal waste economy must be co-designed with the community, with rural and urban solutions needing to differ due to the differences in social dynamics. 
  • The most successful models have a strong social component with support offered for engagement with the formal sector, as well as providing training.
The insights gathered from the event will be collated with the ABI-DEA-CSIR colloquium on the same topic, in a briefing document prepared by the CSIR, in association with GreenCape. Insights will be posted on the GreenCape website in due course.
Please see presentations for upload below. For more detail on the workshop, contact Kirsten Barnes