The socio-economic differences between landfill and street waste pickers in the Free State province of South Africa
Schenck, Catherina J.
Blaauw, Phillip F.
Viljoen, Jacoba M.M.
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Waste picking is an important survival strategy of many people throughout the developing world. South Africa has a sizeable waste picker population who ply their trade on municipal landfill sites as well as on the streets of cities and towns. This study lifts the lid on this neglected area of research by analysing and comparing landfill and street waste pickers side by side in a socioeconomic context. Samples of waste pickers were drawn from the three main municipalities of Mangaung, Matjhabeng and Metsimaholo in the Free State province of South Africa and a questionnaire-based survey was conducted. Among the findings was that waste picking offers a financial lifeline when, due to inadequate schooling and grinding poverty, individuals would be hard pressed to find employment in the formal economy. The study lays an important foundation for further comparative and qualitative research into this important segment of South Africa’s informal economy.