LUSAKA, Sept. 16 — Every morning, before the first rays of the sunlight touch the ground, groups of men and women set out on a mission to collect recyclable waste in Lusaka, the capital of Zambia.
Armed with worn-out sacks, they sift through piles of garbage, gathering plastic bottles, aluminium cans, and other recyclable materials on the streets.
“Collecting recyclable waste items allows me to earn a reliable income to feed my family and give my children a better future,” said Peter Mwamba, 36, a resident of Misisi compound, a slum located near the central business district of Lusaka.
Mwamba, a father of two young children, said he is not ashamed to undertake what many people may consider an odd job.
“The hope of a better future for my children gives me the drive to collect empty plastic bottles and scrap metal,” he said while picking discarded plastic items from a trash can at a restaurant in Lusaka’s Soweto Market.
Like Mwamba, a number of people from slums and low-income communities of Lusaka are now looking to recyclable waste collection, which is not only empowering them a chance to earn a living but also rekindling their hopes and aspirations.
“Collecting recyclable waste has been a lifeline for me. It has given me a sense of purpose and a means to provide for my needs and those of my children,” said Bridget Nondo, 42, a resident of Mandevu, a low-income and densely populated area in Lusaka.
Nondo, a mother of three, collects breakable bottles, which she sells directly to a recycling company. Unlike other recyclable waste collectors who have to move from place to place looking for materials, community members bring them to her makeshift stall at Mandevu market.
“Even children know that I collect bottles and so they bring them through. When the number reaches a certain quantity, I call a representative of a recycling company and trade the bottles for cash,” she said.
She further revealed that she earns an average of 1,000 Zambian Kwacha (about 47.5 U.S. dollars) every month from the recycling business. “I have been collecting recyclable bottles for over a year and can say that it’s a good business.”
Amos Bwalya, 23, who manages a waste collection point located near the Misisi compound, said that in the absence of conventional job opportunities, collecting recyclable waste has become the mainstay for some individuals and households in low-income areas.
“You will be surprised to learn that for some individuals, recyclable waste collection is their primary source of income. It is from this that they are able to afford to pay rent and put food on the table,” Bwalya said. (Xinhua)