Waste Angels Cleaning the Community


It’s the  early hours of the morning and a loaded trolley of stacked with recycle material is being loaded on to a trolley by an angel . The angel pushing or pulling the trolley is hard at work.  The Angel uses his energy into getting their load closer to the recycle destination. The Route seems to be well planned ensuring that they maximise their efficiency. If you are on the road, trying to beat rush-hour traffic you will notice angels hard at work.  To most of us, these angels are passed by without a thought.  These angels are members of society, in the informal sector , clearing your community for the betterment of all .

They are sadly viewed by many as a nuisance however they have filled a gap where many fear to tread.  These angels are often abused by drivers and homeowners, because of their hobo-like appearance.

Scouring the streets for recyclable materials such as cardboard, plastic, glass and paper.

Health.co.za has been doing research in this area for some time and has committed to improving their lives and assisting with their channel partners to sponsor polyethylene bags. We are planning to brand and add safety features to the bags   .  Trolleys come on many shapes and sizes, and on road repairs are a common site. Health.co.za is assisting with keeping the wheels turning.

The Conditions that they live in and work in.

It’s a harsh environment, both where the live and where they work. Theft amongst the shack dwellers is always a challenge and then the work environment is just as tough.

No matter the abuse, these angels keep at it, knowing that the more they do the better the income. 

Angels each earn between R120 to R250 a day depending on the products collected. 

This is not a standard working 9 to 5 day job. They start early and try to offload the first load by mid day, hoping for a second load by the end of the day

These angels are common around the world and an estimated 1,8% of the urban population in developing countries survives by reclaiming recyclable materials from waste.

The angels use the pavements and roads  to get their loads to the recycle plants , which is not always in the best interests of all road users. Weighing up the advantages and disadvantages we sympathise with all who are trying to get about their day without obstruction. Bear a thought for those who are assisting in cleaning up and also assisting the economy and feeding mouths.

“ These angels are hard workers , who spend many hours a day cleaning up the community. It’s hard work in a hostile environment. They are doing the community a service. Most of them do it to stay alive.

The informal waste management sector is currently unregulated.

Urban planning regulations and the proposed waste policy would improve the angel’s situation.

We are all in this together and together we can all make a huge difference.

                                                                                                    Consumer Information                                 

If you go this route, you will have to separate your recyclables at home and have somewhere to store them until you take them to a drop-off site or buy-back centre.

Collect-a-can, a joint venture between ArcelorMittal South Africa (Africa’s major steel producer and producer of tinplate for food and beverage cans) and Nampak (Africa’s largest packaging company and beverage can producer), is the main collector of used beverage cans. They have offices in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Vanderbijlpark, Durban and Cape Town. (See website for contact details.)

In Johannesburg you can take cans to the drop-off points at Pikitup’s garden centres. For information on garden centres with drop-off points visit www.pikitup.co.za (look under general information, then select regional information and click on garden sites). If you can’t access the info on Pikitup’s website (I can’t for some reason), the garden sites with recycling facilities are listed here.

Take your glass to drop-off points at Pikitup’s garden centres or visit the Glass Recycling Company’s website 
www.glassrecyclingcompany.co.za for a list of glass bank locations around the country. If your town is not on the list, it may be worth phoning The Glass Recycling Company (the number is on the website) because there may still be glass banks.

You can also take glass to the drop-off points at Pikitup’s garden sites in Johannesburg or to one of the many buy-back centres that operate around the country.

White office paper is the most valuable, coloured paper and cardboard are next, then magazines and, finally, newspapers.
Mondi has a national Ronnie Recycling kerbside collection service. For information visit 
www.paperpickup.co.za or phone 0800-022-112.
You can also take paper to drop-off points at Pikitup’s 
garden sites.


  • In Johannesburg there are drop-off points at some of Pikitup’s garden sites.
  • The Plastics Federation of SA, which has recently changed its name to Plastics SA, has posted a lists of sites where discarded PET (number 1), HD-PE (number 2) and LD-PE (number 4) can be taken for recycling on its website.
  • Informal recyclers can earn between R100 and R250 a day from salvaging. It doesn’t sound like much, but for some it’s the only source of income. With South Africa’s high unemployment rate, recycling holds great job creation potential for unskilled workers. The department of trade and industry said that recycling could provide about 350,000 jobs .If you don’t want to pay for a curbside collection service or take your own recyclables to a drop-off point or buy-back centre, you could start off by separating out recyclables in your rubbish into metal, paper, glass and plastics and putting them into separate bags which you can place in the top of your wheelie bins when you put your rubbish out on collection day. This way, the bin pickers won’t have to rummage through your garbage, this reduces the health risk and they’re less likely to leave a mess on the street. If you start to separate your rubbish this way, you will get to see just how much of what you usually throw away is recyclable – which will probably surprise you.

Join Health.co.za and help us to help those in need, who give back so much to making our environment and country a cleaner and better place.

Your contribution to the Health Angels will enable all parties to improve the sector , make the Angels more visible to motorists and allow us to continually educate the angels of safe use of roads and pavements .

We are all in this together and together we can all make a huge difference.

We thank you for taking your time to consider our plight of improving the environment and the lives of hard working individuals. May God bless your kindness and pledge to this crucial cause, thank you from the Health.co.za team. 


BankStandard Bank
Account NameHealthCoZa (PTY) LTD
Account Number1010 926 9207
Swift CodeSBZA ZA JJ
ReferenceHAF-waste angels
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Author: Health.co.za

Health.co.za add value to an individuals life by bringing People, Healthcare Practitioners and Healthcare Companies as one thriving community