External resources

Waste picker organisations

African Reclaimers Organisation (ARO)

ARO is a mass-based democratic movement of reclaimers who work in the streets and at landfills. ARO represents and defends the interests of reclaimers, and ensures that they are able to partake fully as members of society in the recycling economy and in looking after the environment.

South African Waste Pickers Organisation (SAWPA)

SAWPA works to promote the rights of waste pickers in South Africa and to strengthen unity and cohesion among waste pickers. The association was formed in 2009 by people who make a living off the collecting and selling of waste.

Global Alliance of Waste Pickers

The Global Alliance of Waste Pickers is a networking process supported by WIEGO, among thousands of waste picker organizations with groups in more than 28 countries covering mainly Latin America, Asia and Africa.

Useful resources on waste pickers and integration

Asiye eTafuleni

Asiye eTafuleni (AeT) is a non-profit organization focused on promoting and developing good practice and process around inclusive urban planning & designThey collaborate with informal workers (including waste pickers) and allied professionals in order to develop inclusive urban spaces that support sustainable livelihoods for informal workers.

Chintan Environmental Research and Action Group

Chintan’s mission is to ensure consumption is more responsible and less burdensome on the planet and the poor. It strives to reduce waste and unsustainable consumption and enable better management of waste that is generated. Its resource page includes a number of useful resources on waste pickers.

Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR)

Established through an Act of Parliament in 1945, the CSIR’s current mission is collaboratively innovating and localising technologies while providing knowledge solutions for the inclusive and sustainable advancement of industry and society. The CSIR is a leader in research and innovation in waste and recycling centres and hosts the Department of Science and Innovation’s Waste Research, Development and Innovation Roadmap (see below).

Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE)

The South African Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment is responsible for protecting, conserving and improving the South African environment and natural resources.

Discard Studies

Discard Studies is an online hub for scholars, activists, environmentalists, students, artists, planners, and others who are asking questions about waste, not just as an ecological problem, but as a process, category, mentality, judgment, an infrastructural and economic challenge, and as a site for producing power as well as struggles against power structures. It produces monthly research-based articles on discard studies; compiles a monthly report on recent articles, jobs, and calls for participation relevant to discard studies; and maintains a repository of definitions, bibliographies, and syllabi as resources.

DSI-NRF-CSIR SARChI Chair in Waste & Society

The Chair focuses on research to create and foster appreciation for the value of waste in service of the well-being of people and the environment. Its website includes information on the Chair’s research programme, as well as links to publications on waste pickers and waste picking in South Africa.

Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA)

GAIA is a global network working towards a just and waste-free world without incineration. GAIA works with waste picker organisations across the world. Its website includes a number of resources on waste pickers.


groundWork is a non-profit environmental justice service and developmental organisation working primarily in Southern Africa in the areas of climate and energy justice, coal, environmental health, global green and healthy hospitals, and waste. groundWork is the South African member of Health Care Without Harm and Friends of the Earth International. It works with waste pickers across South Africa, including the South African Waste Pickers Association (SAWPA).


SWaCH envisions a society that is socially just, economically equitable, culturally plural, politically democratic, environmentally sustainable, peaceful, and humane. Its mission is to engage an entrepreneurial workforce of waste pickers into an efficient, responsive and accountable organisation and work in partnership with the municipal solid waste management (SWM) system to transform the SWM situation in Pune, India. The Resource page on its website includes research reports, articles, copies of its agreements with municipalities, and links to Indian legislation and policy affecting waste pickers. The Downloads page includes posters used to educate households.

Waste Research, Development and Innovation Roadmap

The Department of Science and Innovation (DSI), in partnership with key public and private sector stakeholders, developed the Waste RDI Roadmap for South Africa to provide strategic direction and to coordinate and manage South Africa’s portfolio investment for the period 2015-2025 in six identified clusters of waste research, development and innovation activity: 1) Strategic Planning; 2) Modelling and Analytics; 3) Technology Solutions; 4) Waste Logistics Performance, 5) Waste and Environment, and 6) Waste and Society. The website includes links to all research reports and publications funded through the Roadmap.

Women in Informal Employment: Globalising and Organizing (WIEGO)

WIEGO is a global network focused on securing livelihoods for the working poor, especially women, in the informal economy. WIEGO works with waste picker organisations in Asia, Africa, Latin America, Europe, and North America. It also supports the Global Alliance of Waste Pickers. Its website includes a section on waste pickers with useful resources and information, as well as links to publications on waste pickers.

WIEGO Gender and Waste Project

The WIEGO Gender and Waste Project is a collaborative project involving waste pickers in Latin America. The project is addressing gender inequality that women waste pickers face at home, at work, and as leaders within their representative organisations. The project developed Toolkits on Gender and Waste for use around the globe that are available on its website.

Waste Research, Development & Innovation Roadmap

Between 2016 and 2019, a team of academics and post-graduate students from the University of the Witwatersrand conducted in-depth research on waste picker integration in two South African municipalities.  In each municipality, research was conducted on how reclaimers, residents and municipal officials understood and experienced waste picker integration, as well as their recommendations for how waste picker integration could be improved and strengthened. The research directly informed the discussions of the national waste picker integration working group that developed the Waste Picker Integration Guideline for South Africa. This webpage presents all dissertations, research reports, and articles written by the research team.