Is one man’s garbage another’s toxic treasure? A brief look into the informal recycling of waste on landfills and associated health challenges in South Africa

13 Mar 2020

As South African consumerism has risen, the waste being generated has increased. Poor accessibility to recycling infrastructures in communities has resulted in a high influx of reusable waste at landfills. Waste disposal through landfills is the primary form of disposal worldwide. According to the World Bank (2018), South Africans produce 0.50-0.99 kg of waste per capita per day. In 2017, the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF), formerly the Department of Environmental Affairs, reported that 75% of this waste is disposed of in landfills across the country. This has, to some degree, created a ‘gold rush’ to landfills as underprivileged and unemployed men and women in urban communities turn to waste recycling as a form of income generation.