Waste Pickers Pilot
Two reclaimers help sort PET plastic bottles for recycling. A pilot programme in Joburg has helped solidify the reclaimer-resident relationship and empowered residents to recycle at home. (Image: Supplied)

PETCO, the leading recycler of PET plastics in South Africa, has teamed up with rural stakeholders to provide PPE to waste pickers.


South Africa (11 June 2020) – Informal reclaimers or waste pickers, are vital to the recycling industry. They are responsible for most of the recycling that takes place in residential spaces. PETCO is taking steps to ensure that waste pickers have the correct personal protective equipment (PPE).

“Although the Covid-19 lockdown has had a big impact on the recycling industry, PET is one of the few material recovery processes that did not come to a complete standstill. And now that the whole value chain is back at work, PETCO and our members are working hard to keep everyone safe.
We are currently distributing 1 500 face shields, sponsored by Safripol, to small buy-back centres in the rural Free State, Northern Cape and Eastern Cape. With Mpact’s help, we have another 3 000 on order and will be distributing personal protective equipment (PPE) to all provinces as stock becomes available.”

PETCO is delivering all the PPE to their affiliated buy-back centres as this is where they will be able to reach the most amount of informal reclaimers.

“Many of these buy-back centres are small businesses whose customers are mostly vulnerable informal reclaimers. By distributing the PPE to their customers, the centres keep their collectors healthy and safe, and keep the supply of recyclate coming in, allowing everyone to earn a living.
Your support for PET recycling continues to make a big difference in many lives.”

To ensure waste pickers are able to work with dignity, be sure to separate your recyclables, leaving them in a clear bag on top of your dustbin. PETCO has a few tips to help you and your family with household recycling.

Now, more than ever, informal reclaimers and small recycling businesses need your support to get back on their feet! Also, you’ve probably found that everyone being home during the lockdown has generated a lot more household waste. Here’s how to deal with it:

  1. Separate recyclables from your food and other bio-waste.
  2. Rinse your recyclable plastic and glass in your dishwater after washing dishes. (In South Africa, saving water is just as important as recycling, so never use clean tap water for this job.)
  3. Place your clean recyclables in a separate box or bag and put it out on your municipal collection day if you know there are informal reclaimers operating in your street.
  4. Alternatively, store recyclables in your garage until you can sign up for a collection service or get to a drop-off point.

With Covid-19, we’ve all seen what global action can accomplish. Now is the perfect time to add recycling to your own ‘new normal’, and start moving towards a healthier planet.

Sources: PETCO – Newsletter
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Tyler Leigh Vivier is a writer for Good Things Guy.

Her passion is to spread good news across South Africa with a big focus on environmental issues, animal welfare and social upliftment. Outside of Good Things Guy, she is an avid reader and lover of tea.

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