Waste Pickers Programme


Pinelands CID will be launching a waste pickers training programme this year.

On 21 November 2023, “Operation Dirt Bin Recyclers” was launched in Plumstead to formalise the work of waste pickers in waste management. Each recycler is vetted by the police and issued with an identifiable vest, name tag, and ID photo. This will allow them access to recycle all packaging discarded into a standard recycling trolley provided by Plumstead residents.

The Pinelands CID social development programme will also include waste management and social entrepreneurship training to upskill and empower these individuals. The programme and activities are currently being drafted.


Waste picker integration into local and regional waste management systems and recycling economies is now global best practice. Waste picker integration advances a number of key policy priorities in South Africa and have created their own form of green jobs. They make significant environmental contributions and play a key role in diverting waste from landfill and providing inputs to the recycling industry. In addition, because waste pickers provide a non-motorised form of collection (trolleys and horse carts), waste picker integration helps to contain greenhouse gas emission related to recycling.

Waste picker integration supports South Africa’s commitments to realising 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): amongst others, SDG 1 on eradiating poverty; SDG8 on economic growth and good jobs for all; SDG 10 on reducing inequality; and SDG 11 on creating sustainable cities and communities (UN General Assembly, 2015). Waste picker integration also advances the objectives of the National Development Plan, or NDP 2030, (National Planning Commission, 2012) to eliminate poverty, reduce inequality, create an inclusive society and economy, and create decent work for all.

For many years in South Africa, waste pickers have been salvaging and separating recyclables out of residents’ and business’ rubbish bins and at landfills after the bins have been put out to be collected. This is called separation outside source or SoS because the households and businesses are the immediate sources of the waste and recyclables (industry is the actual source). More recently, municipalities have started asking residents and businesses to separate their recyclables from their rubbish before putting them out to be collected. In this way, the recyclables can be collected separately and be sent for recycling instead of to landfills. This is called separation at source or S@S.

Waste pickers subsidise municipalities and industry. They save municipalities money that would have been spent on transporting more waste to landfills. It also saves on building new landfills when existing ones fill up faster than they should. Waste pickers also subsidise industry, because they are paid a very small proportion of the value of the recyclables that they sell. They are not paid for the work that they do to extract them from waste, prepare them, transport, or sell them into the recycling value chain.

Source: https://wasteroadmap.co.za and https://wastepickerintegration.org

Interested in joining this project? Email Yazied Davids social@pinelandscid.co.za

Plumstead launches initiative to employ waste pickers for community safety