The International Alliance of Waste Pickers is a union of waste picker organizations representing more than 460,000 workers across 34 countries
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Posted by
Written by SAWPA


Country South Africa

March 20, 2020

Check translation:
SAWPA media statement
Written by SAWPA. Groundwork. 03/18/2020

SAWPA logo
The South African Waste Pickers Association is calling all men and women who are picking the recyclable materials within the waste stream, those on the landfills, streets, illegal dump-sites and in communities to take care of their health in this difficult time.

We know that the recycling economy is still suffering the impacts of plastic waste ban on exports and imports around the globe. Waste Pickers as the backbone of the recycling industry, operating in the informal sector and are self-employed with no one to provide PPE.

It is a fact that once all the items associated with the COVID-19 – sanitiser containers, toilet papers, masks, etc. – have been used up waste pickers are the ones who will be at the receiving end to sort and separate from other waste products.

We call upon our governments (all spheres), private sector, civil society organizations to assist, support, fund and work holistically with waste pickers during this time and make it easier for waste Pickers to have access to sanitizers.

We call upon the national government to make it mandatory for all citizens to separate their waste. We call upon our local governments to phase out mixed waste collection systems.

We call upon our local governments to build material recovery facilities in every municipality, run and operated by waste Pickers. We also call upon the citizens of this country to unite in managing their waste from the source and start embracing the concept of Zero Waste.

All this will go a long way in ensuring that waste pickers are also protected and the practice of good hygiene in instilled in their working environment. We again, wish to emphasis to all our members to exercise extra caution in all the areas they work in.


Simon Mbata
National coordinator
SAWPA (South African Waste Pickers Association)
+27 66 219 1232
Simon.mbata @

Tsepang Molefe
+27 74 405 1257
media @