Together with groundWork and the Urban Futures Centre, we have started a new 3-year project working with informal workers to create innovative, low-tech solutions for zero-waste in the city. The focus of this project is on the markets of Warwick. The markets of Warwick provide food, goods and services from informal traders for an estimated 400,000 people who travel daily through this busy urban hub. Supporting existing innovations and co-designing zero-waste and closed-looped practices ensures a healthier and more dignified work environment for informal workers. There is now substantial evidence to show that socially just zero-waste models create more, and better, jobs. For example, the 2021 GAIA Zero Waste and Economic Recovery Report predicts that if Durban were to recover 80% of recyclable and organic material in its waste stream, the city could create over 4,000 new jobs. Reducing the tonnage of waste to landfill also significantly reduces greenhouse gas emissions in the city and impacts positively on city budgets.
Working with informal workers to create zero-waste models for our city is a win-win for the city’s social, economic, environmental and climate change goals.
eThekwini municipality has been internationally recognised for commitments to environmental and climate goals and their various waste initiatives. Building on these initiatives this project aims to create sustainable and socially just zero-waste models that reduce pressure on our already overloaded and toxic landfills. Municipal governments worldwide are making critical decisions about which programmes to invest in to increase climate resilience and rebuild local economies that have been damaged by the COVID-19 crisis. This project offers an opportune moment to place the city of Durban firmly into the regional and international arena as a city finding innovative and just environmental and socio-economic solutions to our global challenges. It also opens possibilities for the municipality to creatively implement the Waste Picker Integration Guidelines and Extended Producer Responsibility Act. We extend an open invitation to you to connect, learn and collaborate with us towards our collective zero-waste future.