By Lillian Banda LUSAKA (Xinhua) --
While recycling is still a relatively new phenomenon, collecting
recyclable waste materials is slowly and steadily becoming a
lucrative undertaking in a number of towns in Zambia.
Individuals from lower income communities are taking advantage
of opportunities presented by the presence of garbage, which is
often indiscriminately disposed of because of lack of proper
waste management systems.
They are doing this by collecting recyclable materials, which
are later sold to manufacturing companies.
Much of the recyclable materials collected include a wide range
of products made of plastic, paper and aluminum.
“I earn about K200 (about 20 U.S. dollars) everyday just from
collecting used plastic food carrier bags,” says Samson Banda,
22, a resident of Lusaka, the country’s capital.
Banda dropped out of school because his parents could not afford
to provide for his educational needs.
“Not only am I now able to afford to rent a house and have
decent meals but I have also saved some monies to help kick
start my own business enterprise,” he added.
He told Xinhua in an interview that he has been involved in the
recyclable waste business for about a year and that he plans to
stop once he has saved enough money.
And Matthews Mwape, a recyclable waste aggregator based in the
Zambian capital notes that the recycling business is not only
helping to bring disadvantaged communities and households out of
lack and despair but also promoting environmental protection
awareness among the general population.
Mwape, who started off as a recyclable waste collector, explains
that many youth are benefiting from collecting recyclable waste
materials which has helped in lifting their lives and their
communities out of extreme poverty.
“As a result, the number of criminal activities has reduced and
those that are financially empowered through recycling are
helping to shape their individual communities in a positive
way,” observes Mwape.
He also reveals that he has contracted 13 people, five of whom
are women to help with the sorting out of the waste supplied by
over 400 individuals from different parts of the Lusaka.
Mwape urged young people to take advantage of opportunities
currently existing in the recycling business to empower
“I am proud to be among those that are not only seeking to
better their lives but also helping to protect the environment,”
says Mary Mwansa, one of Mwape’s contracted workers.
Mwansa, 26, says she considers her job like any other job as
long as she is able to earn a living.
Meanwhile, Global Green and Clean Environment (GGCE), a local
organization, says it is about time governments started to look
for unconventional ways of creating job opportunities for the
majority of the country’s many populations that are out of
employment, particularly the youth.
GGCE notes that there is need to invest in programs and policies
that encourage populations to be enterprising and less dependent
on the government.
“Recycling is a booming business in Zambia that needs extensive
support because it can help to boost the manufacturing sector
and increase employment opportunities,” Brian Bwalya, the
organization’s executive director said.
He is however quick to caution those already involved in
recycling to invest in education and sensitization programs
about the handling and management of waste.
“Let us ensure that education and sensitization programs
particularly for recyclable waste collectors are prioritized.
Their health should always come first and they should be advised
to wear the right gear,” he said.
According to him, laws pertaining to the environment and
recycling should be followed so that issues of environmental
protection and human health are respected.