The Employment Creation Potential of Recycling in South Africa

by LOWITT, S, 2007
Research Report, Employment Growth & Development Initiative, Human Sciences Research Council

Lowitt assesses the job creation potential of South Africa’s recycling industry and whether government could promote employment in this area. The first section of the paper reviews the debate on the role of recycling in industrial production and the options available to governments for strategically positioning such activities in the short and long run. This review is based on international literature and case studies. The paper raises key issues that could assist authorities in placing recycling initiatives in South Africa on a firmer economic footing. The second section focuses on the current status of and employment creation by recycling in South Africa. It focuses on understanding the supply chains that apply to various waste streams and on identifying where market growth and job creation might arise. It also raises important questions about net job creation, as international experience has shown that job creation in recycling often comes at the expense of existing jobs in waste collection, waste disposal and virgin material production.