South Africa has more than 90 000 Waste Pickers. The South African Waste Pickers Association (SAWPA), is an Organisation of between 4000 to 6000 registered waste pickers from all nine provinces of South Africa.
The organised movement started in 2007, and it was constituted in 2009 during the first national meeting of waste pickers in Africa. groundWork has been a partnering organisation of SAWPA since its inception.SAWPA members are based on waste dump sites and on the streets of cities and towns across the country.
They play a key role in environment justice and mitigating climate change by collecting and selling waste as a livelihood strategy. They divert materials such as plastic, cardboard, paper and metals away from waste dumps and recycle them – thereby reducing GHG emissions from waste dumpsites and reducing reliability on virgin material.