Inner-city Cardboard Recycling Project

Asiye eTafuleni has been commissioned by eThekwini Municipality through its Imagine Durban Demonstration Fund, a joint initiative between the Municipality and Sustainable Cities, a Vancouver based NGO (Canada) to implement inner city cardboard recycling project.

The project is aimed at testing methods of improving the livelihoods of informal cardboard recyclers and better manage the cardboard collection process within the public realm. Asiye eTafuleni has been piloting the project since November 2009 with the distribution of custom-made aprons, custom-made trolleys and other equipments to a group of Cardboard Recyclers in response to their needs for the enhancement of their working environments.

Asiye eTafuleni has engaged a series of deliberate processes, firstly in its research phase through observations and interviews within the informal cardboard recycling sector including academic research and actual work experience in the field; secondly in design research and development – and thirdly in the current implementation phase with the distribution of the custom designed products and equipments to a group of identified beneficiaries. The final phase will conclude with an assessment of the various proposed systems, which in fact is an ongoing exercise because the feedback received from the Recyclers have been integrated in both the design development and the implementation phases.

Some of the learnings from the pilot phase have been:

1)    Urban management solutions should encompass design interventions: As it can be a catalyst for integrated and more structured urban management, by including the varying expectations of multiple stakeholders.

2)    Interdisciplinary approach enables effective synergies for solution-making:
This encompasses the different energies needed for street work, research and evaluation processes, design development, and implementation at scale.

3)    Ensuring sustainability may mean finding creative solutions to the zero-waste strategy: By raising the consciousness around the challenges and possibilities around informal recyclers, it can have far reaching positive effects for the generators of waste and the recyclers.

4)    Funding streams and the final activities of a project should be incisive in order to improve the challenges over time. This is because with upscaling, managing the process becomes more complex, particularly for the second generation delivery of the project.

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