Youth urged to turn waste into income

Wednesday, October 13, 2021
Waste pickers at a dumpster. Image: WEF

Government has encouraged the youth to take part in waste management ventures in a bid to address the persistent challenges of unemployment, inequality and poverty in the country.

The Government Communication and Information System, in partnership with the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, on Wednesday hosted a masterclass on waste management as a business model for the youth.

The masterclass was aimed at empowering young people with information on the economic, training and funding opportunities that exist within the waste sector, and encourage entrepreneurship to create sustainable eco-friendly jobs and drive the country’s economic growth.

The masterclass resolved that it is important to train and educate the youth in the waste sector and green economy. The youth has been urged to aim to create employment, as opposed to waiting to be employed.

Addressing the masterclass, Thabo Magomola, the acting Chief Director: Chemicals and Waste Policy, Monitoring & Evaluation at the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, said the waste sector is recognised by government as one that provides opportunities for value recovery, beneficiation, job creation and economic development.

“Significant opportunity exists to maximise the recycling of chemicals and waste, and expand the value of the chemical and waste economy, while sustainably minimising the environmental and health impacts by reducing chemical waste, as early as possible in the value chain,” Magomola said.

Accelerating waste recycling, waste-to-energy and waste beneficiation, Magomola said, will be key to unlocking the possible economic opportunities in the waste sector.

Magomola said increasing recycling and beneficiation of waste as a contributor to the circular economy has the potential to create 150 000 new jobs by 2024.

He acknowledged that the creation of jobs would not happen without the mobilisation of the private sector, non-government role players and other stakeholders.

To encourage the youth to get involved in employment and seek opportunities for themselves, Tshepo Mazibuko, Managing Director of K1 Recycling, shared some insights on the importance of waste management and how to turn waste into income.

Mazibuko started working as a waste picker after struggling for four years to find employment. He started with a bag and trolley, collecting recyclables from rubbish bins. He later learned that he can turn it into a successful, paying business.

“After registering my company in 2011, I wanted to get into the recycling space but realised that it required machines that were very expensive. That’s where the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries came in with a grant of R5 million to assist me to buy machines and to create more jobs,” he said.

Thanks to the department, his company K1 Recycling, could afford to buy processing machines from China.

Mazibuko said his business has been growing in leaps and bounds.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the company employed 21 permanent staff and had a total of 800 waste pickers.

Mazibuko has urged the youth to start researching the waste management industry and start off small in the communities from which they come. –