The government has encouraged young people to participate in waste management projects in a bid to address the persistent challenges of unemployment, inequality and poverty in the country.
The Government Communication and Information System, in partnership with the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, organized a masterclass on Wednesday on waste management as a business model for young people.
The masterclass aimed to provide young people with information on the economic, training and financing opportunities that exist in the waste sector, and to encourage entrepreneurship to create sustainable and environmentally friendly jobs and stimulate the economic growth of the country.
The masterclass resolved that it is important to train and educate young people in the waste sector and the green economy. Young people were urged to aim to create jobs, rather than waiting to be employed.
Addressing the masterclass, Thabo Magomola, the Acting Chief Director of Chemicals and Waste Policy, Monitoring and Evaluation at the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, said that the waste sector is recognized by the government as one that offers opportunities for value recovery, enrichment, job creation and economic development.
“There is a significant opportunity to maximize chemical and waste recycling and increase the value of the chemical and waste economy, while sustainably minimizing environmental and health impacts by reducing waste chemicals, as early as possible in the value chain,” said Magomola.
Accelerating waste recycling, energy recovery and waste recovery, Magomola said, will be key to unlocking possible economic opportunities in the waste sector.
Magomola said increasing waste recycling and recovery as a contributor to the circular economy has the potential to create 150,000 new jobs by 2024.
He acknowledged that job creation would not happen without the mobilization of the private sector, non-governmental actors and other stakeholders.
To encourage young people to get involved in employment and seek opportunities for themselves, Tshepo Mazibuko, General Manager of K1 Recycling, shared some insights on the importance of waste management and how to turn waste into income.
Mazibuko started working as a waste picker after struggling for four years to find a job. He started with a bag and a cart, collecting recyclables from the bins. He later learned that he could make a successful and profitable business out of it.
“After registering my business in 2011, I wanted to enter the recycling business but realized that it required very expensive machinery. This is where the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries stepped in with a grant of 5 million rand to help me buy machinery and create more jobs,” he said.
Thanks to the department, his company K1 Recycling was able to afford to buy processing machines in China.
Mazibuko said his business has grown by leaps and bounds.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the company employed 21 permanent employees and had a total of 800 waste pickers.
Mazibuko urged young people to start researching the waste management industry and start small in the communities they come from.