Working With Your Local Informal Recycler

Informal recyclers are a valuable and unsung part of the waste management chain in Durban. Although some may make a mess, they are individuals doing important but thankless work that in the end helps the environment and saves the city money. Following a conversation with Mongi, a recycler who frequently works in and around Glenwood, here are some tips for how you can make their lives easier while keeping the streets cleaner:


1) Talk to them: Informal recyclers are valuable members of the Glenwood community and you can learn a lot about their jobs and their lives just through a simple chat. Ask them how they are, what they need, and how you can help. Having a good relationship with them will certainly encourage them to be a bit neater when working on your street.


2) Set aside the items they’re looking for: Mongi said that he collects old clothes, aluminium and tin cans, cardboard, and old electronics. Put it on the street separately and you’ll save them the time and trouble. Better yet, get to know your local recyclers and give them these things directly.

3) Use the Municipal orange recycling bags: The biggest item that recyclers are looking for is cardboard, which they sell by the Kg. Generally, that should be found in orange bags, and if there are orange bags on the curb they more easily check them rather than digging through the frequently nastier black bags.

4) Tie your bags so that they can be opened: Loosely tie your bags so that they can be easily opened, checked, and resealed. Tightly tied bags may get ripped open by some recyclers, contributing to a large mess on the street.

5) Put your trash out in the morning: On any given trash day your garbage will likely get picked through several times. Each time this happens it’s more likely to create a mess. Furthermore, Mongi says that recyclers who work at night are more likely to be messy as there is nobody about to chune them for it. Put your trash out in the morning, a few hours before it’s collected, and it will get picked over less and by neater recyclers working during the daylight.

6) TALK TO THEM: They’re human beings. They do a difficult job for little money. They are a part of our community. They appreciate your help. Work with them, not against them.


  • Great tips! I can certainly vouch that not only are informal recyclers humans but some amazing personalities and professionals too. Most of the larger cardboard waste households generate don’t usually fit in Orange bags anyway, so if they are neatly piled separately – making access easier – the quicker they can get on with their work without having to rummage through your waste. Also, for small offices and homes based offices that generate white paper waste – it is valuable for informal recyclers because they get paid more per kg than cardboard, plastics, tin. Become a friend to one of your local recyclers and support them. Your waste is their livelihood and it contributes to higher rates of recycling.

  • Love this and yes, I feel this is the way we should do it. If only I can get my family to feel that way! They just throw everything in the bin regardless!
    Until I have a better way to separate things I am not doing this the way I prefer to do it, but I am not beaten.

  • An interesting and useful post- Thank you!

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