Durban — Residents of a suburb in a small northern KwaZulu-Natal town are not just recycling, but they are turning their trash into cash. The pilot project in Dundee is encouraging residents to recycle and waste pickers not to litter.
Strathmore Park residents in Dundee began a recycling initiative two weeks ago, not only to protect the environment but also to keep their neighbourhood clean and help waste pickers with recyclables.
Karin Meyer, vice-chairperson of the Strathmore Park Residents Forum and Neighbourhood Watch, said community members were unhappy with the mess left along their verges by people who rummaged through the garbage bags in search of recyclable items.
“On bin collection day, these people would open the dirt bin bags looking for items they could recycle to get some money. This, however, would create a mess outside the property. Some residents then decided to have a meeting with representatives of Endumeni Municipality’s environmental and parks & gardens department.
“It was then decided that there would be different coloured bags for recycling items and the black bag for the trash. The municipal official arranged for clear yellow bags which were then distributed through the neighbourhood.
“People now toss the paper, cardboard plastic and tin into the yellow bags. And if residents have edibles that they want to give, then those are placed in plastic shopping bags.
“So on bin days residents now put out their black bags, yellow recyclable bags and recognisable shopping bags if they have food items to give,” said Meyer.
Gail Scott, a Strathmore Park resident, said the community which was once an eyesore because of the rubbish strewn everywhere had been transformed.
“Since this initiative started, we no longer have the problem of people rummaging through waste.
“Instead the recycling bags are all collected and taken to one spot where it is collected for recycling. People take the recycling items and get some money for their efforts. They were also informed of the shopping bags that had edible items for them.
“This pilot project is not only helping the environment but also helping people make a little money,” said Scott.
Percy-Grant Mabilisa, Endumeni Municipality’s senior communications manager, said the municipality and the community had joined forces in this recycling campaign, which began last month.
“The residents will separate recyclables in different colour bags (yellow or clear). The bags will be left outside the residence. The municipality will fetch the black bag and the waste pickers will take the clear/yellow bag.
“The residents and sponsors will also provide bags,” Mabilisa said.
He said the recycling had started in Strathmore Park, but they were hoping to expand it to other areas.
“Communication and understanding between waste pickers and other stakeholders currently is a bit of a challenge and (there is) a lack of formalisation and co-ordination of waste pickers,” he said.