A number of families in Kwekwe are earning a decent living through collecting and selling recyclable materials from the local dumpsites.
The recycling business involves waste pickers separating materials such as scrap metal, food waste, paper, and plastic from the rest of unwanted waste then sell to it to companies that can crush it and export it.
Some family members operating from Amaveni dumpsite said that they were making up to an average of US$400 a month from the waste recycling projects.
One woman said she was managing to pay rent, buy food and send her children to school from revenue generated by her waste recycling project.
“We are actually making a decent living out of the waste recycling business since we started, I am sending my children to school, buying food, and all other family expenses from this business. We pick any recyclable materials, for example, plastic bottles and sell,” she said.
One male waste picker said companies from as far as Harare were coming to the dumpsite in Amaveni to buy the raw materials.
“We mostly collect plastic and heap it in quantities of even up to 6 tonnes that we then sell to Harare or sometimes the buyers come down here,” said another man.
They however bemoaned the lack of personal protective equipment and running water at the site.
“As you can see, we just touch the waste with bare hands and during this time of COVID 19, we are worried that we might touch materials containing the virus. We would be very happy if our city council (Kwekwe) would provide us with gloves, work suits and masks,” one trader said.
Another said they sometimes lost the raw materials to fires that burn at the dumpsite and they wanted the place where they store the picked material to be fenced off for protection.
They also said they were being duped by middlemen who underpaid for the raw materials and this forced them to look for alternative viable markets.
Waste recycling is a lucrative business in Zimbabwe, with companies such as Greenworks in Gweru reporting making substantial profits from dealing in recyclable materials.