The Business of Informal Recycling in “Business Day” Newspaper

Richard Dobson & Tasmi Quazi

There has been renewed media interest in AeT’s Inner-City Cardboard Recycling Project which has been featured in one of South Africa’s premium financial newspapers, Business Day, on 24 March 2014 in Page 7. The article written by Patricia McCracken focuses on the socio-economic benefits of informal recycling as a livelihood strategy, and its connection to various formal sectors.  In addition, it profiles AeT’s project and operational approach, with particular focus on its Research Officer, Tasmi Quazi.

AeT’s Inner-City Cardboard Recycling Project was initiated as a City-based “Imagine Durban” demonstration pilot to the value of R100, 000 in 2010. Notwithstanding the vulnerability of the informal recycling sector, the project has been sustained for over 4 years, even after the funds from the pilot phase have been expended.

Business Day Article featuring AeT’s Inner-City Informal Recycling Project on Page 7 of the 24 March 2014 edition.


Some reasons this project has been sustained is eThekwini Municipality’s continued support – with efforts to invest in further research into the sector, as well as exploring the implementation of innovative informal recyclers’ facilities. This is combined with reduced levels of police harassment and social stigma faced by the informal recyclers participating in the project, with similar positive impacts for neighbouring recyclers in the City.

Secondly, the Project participants have become organised as working committees and through progressive engagement with the Project, they have been enjoying improved status – affirming themselves as “professionals”. Read more here.

Palmer and Pine Street Recyclers with AeT staff and Bright Site social work students salute other informal recyclers for 2014’s International Waste Pickers Day. Photo: Tasmi Quazi.


Lastly, the project interventions such as the custom-designed trolleys and the social work support services of UNISA’s Bright Site Project that the informal recyclers have been receiving has sustained the Project. AeT believes that these subliminal signals continue to attract media interest, which in turn, serves as external evidence of the Projects sustained impact.

To read the online edition of this newspaper article, click here. To read other media articles about this Project, follow the links below:


The photo featured in SCI’s article with the elated recyclers and AeT staff (Photo by Mxolisi Cele)

Feature image: Informal recycler leader, Maria Vilakazi pictured with bundles of cardboard recyclables which she sells on a daily basis. Photo: Thomas Ferreira.


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