Waste pickers and glass recycling companies are facing the risk of collapse as the ban on alcohol sales continues.
With South Africa on day 56 of the national lockdown, glass manufacturers are unable to produce and sell bottles to alcohol producers.
Shandeer Jhetam, chief executive of the Glass Recycling Company, said: “Across the country, thousands of small businesses and glass recycling collectors are on their knees as the ban on alcohol sales has impacted those companies and individuals involved in the production and recycling of glass packaging.”
More than 80% of all beer sold by SAB in South Africa is packaged in returnable containers with the remaining 20% sold in convenience packs in order to meet consumer demand.
“Glass manufacturers are struggling immensely themselves and cannot receive or buy recyclable cullet, which is the small glass fragments used to manufacture new glass from recycled glass.”
Although the government has so far aided small businesses with more than R2 billion as a relief fund during this pandemic, the money does not include waste pickers whose services are regarded as informal.
“The sad reality is that the majority of glass collectors and small recycling businesses will fall through the cracks as they are not able to claim grants, including UIF (Unemployment Insurance Fund), as they very much fall into the informal sector,” said Jahtam.
Meanwhile, lawyers for Human Rights is taking the plight of members of the informal trade, including waste pickers, to court.
The organisation is seeking an urgent order to overturn directives which state that members of the informal trade need a passport as well as a work permit to enable them to work under level 4 of the lockdown regulations.