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Waste pickers fear Joburg recycling initiative will kill business

From 1 July, people living in the suburbs, townships or in a complex will be supplied with a recycling bag once a week to dispose of items like paper, glass and cans.

A waste picker is seen in the Robinson Deep landfill site in Johannesburg. The site has a maximum of 3 years left until it reaches capacity. From 1 July Johannesburg residents are compelled to separate their garbage from recyclable material in an effort to avoid reaching this point.  Picture: Christa Eybers/EWN

JOHANNESBURG – Some waste pickers in Johannesburg have told Eyewitness News, they fear the city's efforts to make recycling compulsory for residents will impact their business.

From 1 July, people living in the suburbs, townships or in a complex will be supplied with a recycling bag once a week to dispose of items like paper, glass and cans.

But the city has assured the almost 6,000 entrepreneurs who work as waste pickers that the project will in fact make their jobs easier.

As early as 4am and waste pickers in Bryanston begin pushing trolley-loads of recyclable items to a truck owned by an independent contractor that pays for recyclable items.

Jabulani Mhlongo has been working at the Robinson Deep landfill site in Turffontein for over 22 years.

He's worried there will be nothing left to salvage once the recycling project is in full swing.

“Our complaints as recyclers are that if government wants to take over the recycling, we’ll go hungry.”

Thirty-year-old Maxwell Zungu is also concerned that the city's new project will have a massive impact on his livelihood.

Waste pickers can earn up to R13,000 a month.

But Pikitup's general manager, Mzukisi Tshem, has assured waste pickers that their work will not become redundant.

WATCH: Joburg's waste woes: Trash vs treasure

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