From informality to formality: Perspectives on the challenges of integrating solid waste management into the urban development and planning policy in Johannesburg, South Africa

Informal waste recycling has become an important activity in the urban South Africa. In the city of Johannesburg for example, informal waste pickers have now become part of the waste management landscape and are involved in municipal waste collection, sorting and recycling of economically viable recyclable materials such as paper, Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) and ferrous metals. Using empirical data collected through the tradition of participatory research, the findings suggest that waste pickers play a vital role in municipal solid waste management and make a significant contribution to the city's economic growth as well as environmental wellness. Despite their contribution, the findings also suggest that, the institutional and policy framework in Johannesburg has continued to not positively integrate the informal sector into the formal systems of solid waste. It is therefore, suggested in the paper that for the city of Johannesburg to effectively and efficiently manage solid waste, it is important that the city managers look for avenues through which they can integrate the two systems of solid waste practices prevalent in the city. The perspective has been analysed within the broader sustainability discourse.

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