Unemployed youth have been encouraged by the government to take part in waste recycling as a way to create jobs for themselves.

Speaking at a waste management masterclass to train and educate the youth in the waste sector, the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries said there were significant opportunities in the sector.

“Significant opportunity exists to maximise the recycling of chemicals and waste, and expand the value of the chemical and waste economy, while sustainably minimising the environmental and health impacts by reducing chemical waste, as early as possible in the value chain,” said Thabo Magomola, the department’s acting Chief Director for Chemicals and Waste Policy, Monitoring and Evaluation.


Magomola said the masterclass was aimed at empowering young people with information on the economic, training and funding opportunities that exist within the waste sector.

To encourage the youth to get involved in employment and seek opportunities for themselves, Tshepo Mazibuko, who is the Managing Director of K1 Recycling, shared his journey from working as a waste picket to running his own business.

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He started with a bag and trolley, collecting recyclables from rubbish bins and later learned that he can turn it into a successful, paying business.

“After registering my company in 2011, I wanted to get into the recycling space but realised that it required machines that were very expensive. That’s where the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries came in with a grant of R5 million to assist me to buy machines and to create more jobs,” he said.

Mazibuko said his business has been growing in leaps and bounds.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the company employed 21 permanent staff and had a total of 800 waste pickers.

Mazibuko has urged the youth to start researching the waste management industry and start off small in the communities from which they come.