Relief for waste pickers

Johannesburg – Government will be distributing food vouchers to waste pickers in an effort to alleviate their suffering during the lockdown.

  On Sunday the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries said since the collection of recyclable waste was not included as an essential service during the lockdown, waste pickers have been unable to earn a living and are experiencing extreme hardship.

  The department said after several meetings with the packaging industry, it has secured R785 000 which will be used to help waste pickers and reclaimers who have lost their livelihoods. Twelve companies in the packaging industry made donations.

  About 3 925 waste pickers who make a living by recycling materials around the country will receive vouchers which they can reclaim at specified retailers. The department had already paid 1 000 of these vouchers to waste reclaimers by Thursday, it said.

  Minister of Forestry and Fisheries and Environmental Affairs Barbara Creecy said the electronic vouchers will be distributed to waste pickers’ cell phones. Organisations representing re-cyclers have submitted lists of beneficiaries who will receive the vouchers.

  “We are grateful to all those who have opened their hearts to the distress of Waste Reclaimers. Because the need out there is so great, we urge others to join our partnership and donate generously,” Creecy said.

  The department’s spokesperson Albi Modise said:  “We decided to work via the associations because we want to make sure that it’s people who are legitimate reclaimers. But it could be that we move on, we find additional reclaimers who may not have been on the initial lists or people who’ve changed cellphone numbers and we’ve struggled to get hold of them. Those people must get in touch with their associations.”

  The department said also with the help of Coca-Cola Beverages SA and Fibre Circle, it also distributed food parcels to waste pickers in Gauteng and handed out food vouchers to the waste reclaimers in Sasolburg. 

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