The role and linkages of buy-back centres in the recycling industry: Pretoria and Bloemfontein (South Africa)13 Jun 2013
Purpose/objectives: The aim of this paper is to get a better understanding of the role and linkages of buy-back centres (BBCs) in the recycling industry. The first objective is to analyse the institutional profile of the BBCs in two different geographical areas – namely, Pretoria and Bloemfontein. The second objective is to discuss the role and linkages of BBCs with the informal sector activities and specifically the activities of street waste pickers. The third objective is to explain the linkages that exist between BBCs and recycling companies. Problem investigated: Recycling, and specifically the collection and sorting of waste, is currently receiving much attention on the national as well as municipal level. To understand the recycling industry, and to make informed policy decisions concerning the recycling industry, policy makers need to have an understanding of the role and crucial link of all role players in the industry. Knowledge on the BBCs, who act as a link between the formal and informal sector activities in the recycling industry, is of the utmost importance. Design/Methodology/Approach: A mixed method approach consisting of a quantitative survey coupled with qualitative questions was used. The mixed method approach is used to collect as much data as possible from the BBCs, which is beyond the scope of what a structured questionnaire on its own can achieve. A lack of accurate location information on BBCs necessitated an intensive search for BBCs in the two areas. Findings/Implications: The BBCs in Pretoria and Bloemfontein act as an important link between informal sector activities and recycling companies and therefore promote informal and formal job opportunities. Formal job opportunities are created at the BBC sites as well as formal jobs at the upper end of the recycling chain, namely at formal recycling companies. Informal income generating opportunities are created for the informal waste collectors. Any changes in the formal or informal recycling sectors will have a direct influence on the operations and existence of the BBCs. Originality/Value: The role of BBCs in the recycling chain has been neglected in the literature. This study is the first study on the linkages and role of BBCs in South Africa and addresses a gap in the literature. Conclusion: BBCs play an important role in creating formal jobs and informal income generating opportunities for the poor and unemployable. More research is needed to understand the industry and its role players. This study can form a basis for additional research in this field.