When we first arrived here in South Africa and we started being comsumers I asked “Is there recycling in South Africa?” I was told a definite “YES!” However it’s not like we are used to. Let me explain.
We toss everything into one container and take it out to the rubbish bin. Then on Rubbish Day the trucks come around just like they do in the states BUT before the trucks can get there the recyclers hit the cans. It is kind of a sad thing to drive down the street and see people with big black bags or with little carts going through the rubbish cans for recyclable materials. Sometimes we have seen the carts packed six feet high or higher as the person is dragging his cart to the recycling station. Sometimes they seem to barely make it up the hills with their load at the end of the day.
It is all done independently. We have a brother in our branch who just a few months ago started his own business. He said he pays maybe R20 to the people who bring him trash from the bins and then he resells it to a processing outfit for R60 rand. I have wanted to have a picture of the people going thru the trash barrels but I feel so sorry for them and I don’t want them to think I’m making fun of them for doing what they are doing. However I did get a picture of a cart on it’s way to the recycling yard. It is really huge. I hope he got plenty of rand to feed his family from his efforts.
We have mentioned before that there are “Intersection Merchants” everywhere selling all kinds of things. There are also women with small children who seem to “work” certain intersections during the busy hours. Also it is very common to have a young man come up to the car window with a garbage bag asking for your trash. If you roll down your window and give him your old newspapers, soda cans, gum wrappers or dirty Kleenex you also give him a couple of rand for helping you clean out your car.