A study by a team in the fields of social work, economics and nutrition – under the guidance of the principal investigator, University of Western Cape Professor Rinie Schenck – has found that waste pickers save South African municipalities about R700 million every year.
The research found a hidden economy thriving on landfills.
The study said communities of "waste pickers" all over the country had created livelihoods by scavenging recyclables, food and potentially useful items from rubbish dumps.
“They are essentially offering a free service to remove recyclable items from landfills.
‘‘This saves money in terms of landfill space, as well as the indirect costs of recycling and waste management,” the professor said.