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Jozi waste pickers go back to basics to keep city clean Print E-mail
07 March 2017

The City of Johannesburg on Monday March 5 took waste management education to recycling companies and waste collectors – some of the roleplayers on the coalface of ongoing efforts to keep the city clean and free of health hazards.

The aim of the Environmental Health Hazards Awareness campaign, staged in the Johannesburg inner city, was to share information with recyclers and formal and informal waste pickers on the safest and most-effective ways of handling recyclable waste and minimising health hazards.

The campaign was prompted by several complaints from residents about health hazards triggered by the waste collectors themselves. Officials visited two recycling companies – Remade Recycle and Waste Collective Group.

Residents have been complaining that when waste pickers collect refuse from bins, they often discard the remaining or unrecyclable items onto the pavements. The garbage is then washed down the drains by rains, clogging the drainage system and polluting streams and rivers.

In many cases, it also results in unsanitary conditions, which are in turn exacerbated by rains. Polluted water flowing from waste dumps and disposal sites can also lead to serious pollution of surface water and the environment.

“Flies and mosquitoes breed in some constituents of solid wastes. They are also very effective vectors that spread diseases,” said Environmental Health Practitioner Amanda Mabikwana during the campaign.

She said another challenge was that some of the informal waste recyclers did not comply with relevant health regulations.

During the workshop, Mabikwana warned waste pickers about the risks they were exposed to when handling the waste.

“In the process of collecting and handling waste, accidents do occur. Sharp objects mixed with the waste can cause injuries that may result in infections. This is why protective equipment is important for waste pickers.”

City pest controller Lekgalwe Nokane spoke about the importance of keeping buildings clean at all times. Nokane said recycling companies had the responsibility to ensure that everyone practised good hygiene when handling the waste.

“Rodents are prime carriers of dangerous diseases. This puts the waste handlers at great risk. All the waste recyclers have to make sure that the garbage is disposed of in the right way,” Nokane said.

Mabikwana said there was a great need for awareness in waste management and recycling industries. “It’s important that local and provincial government work together to sensitise waste pickers and communities on the risks they are exposed to. We also want ordinary citizens to be aware of these issues. The more people know about them, the fewer dangers there will be.”

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Last Updated on 07 March 2017