Informal waste recycling activities: Implications for livelihood and health

DOI: 10.1080/20421338.2017.1380584
Author(s): Kehinde Oluwaseun OmotosoDepartment of Economics, South Africa


Informal waste recycling activities are fast becoming commonplace in most developing countries. Using South Africa as a case study, this study characterizes informal collection of recyclable waste materials. It also explores the roles of informal collection of recyclable waste materials on the livelihood and health status of those who are involved in the activities. The study uses population-weighted General Household Surveys (GHS) covering years 2005–2014. Both parametric and non-parametric regression techniques were applied. For the most part, the results show upward trends in the proportions of those involved in collection of recyclable waste materials at the household level, and those earning a living from informal collection of recyclable waste. However, those who collect recyclable waste for a living are 3% more likely to suffer ill-health than those who do not. Hence, there is need for pragmatic actions to improve the working conditions of those involved by integrating innovative measures into the informal waste recycling system.

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