LETTER: Resident questions City of Joburg’s recycling programme

Resident Ruth Longridge writes:

I would like to raise some issues about the efforts of the City of Johannesburg and Pikitup regarding recycling and ask some questions which I hope to read answers. Reading your article Recycling ‘not that well’ as published in the North Eastern Tribune, Week Ending 5 October, it was the first time I heard that this separation is mandatory.

I noticed that the Mondi bags were no longer being collected and I phoned the number given on their reusable Ronnie Bags. They informed me that the council had changed the agreement for the area (Norwood), and gave me the landline number of the person responsible at the City. Repeatedly, the number rang until the automated answering service kicked in, only to say that the message box was full and I could not leave a message. No alternative number was given. I then asked one of the Pikitup truck workers who said that bags would be issued but not by those who came to collect the waste from bins. The following week we were issued with bags and then there was a hiatus of several weeks in the delivery of the bags, but now it seems to be regular.

I suppose I could have scoured the Internet for information, but most of the people who put out the garbage are not residents but employees; gardeners and domestic workers, to whom the message should be delivered. Pikitup and the council did not adequately inform residents of their plans – the owner of this house received no email or SMS in this regard, and no leaflet was received.

Your article stated that the MMC, Nico de Jager, said that preliminary figures are disappointing. Well naturally, as the casual pickers are still at their work, the arrangements made to include them into the formalisation of the system appear to be inadequate. I am aware that many of these people are indigent, and possibly illegal migrants, but that does not change the facts on the ground. In many cases these pickers simply lift the whole plastic bag and remove it to where they are going to sort it; many open areas have become informal recycling centres where the unwanted portions of these collections are dumped.

I would like to know who decided to implement the use of single-use bags, who issued the contract for the production of these bags in the first place, and how the procurement process was accomplished; someone certainly landed a lucrative contract there. Please note that the issuing of single-use clear plastic bags for recycling hardly communicates a sensible approach to recycling – it is, in fact, regressive, especially as those people who were sorting their recyclables before putting them out are now expected not to do so; a sort of un-training or environmental dumbing-down. I doubt that residents were adequately consulted on this decision.

Also, what efforts have been made to include residents and their workers in this process? And again, what efforts were made and are being made to include the informal pickers in the process?

The majority obviously falls outside of the new system, so it is exclusive and, therefore, ineffective.

Details: [email protected]

Share your thoughts about the waste pickers in your area by posting on the North Eastern Tribune Facebook page.

  AUTHOR
Thabo Jobo
Journalist

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