RECYCLED WASTE IS A METAPHORICAL GOLDMINE: ‘URBAN MINING’, AKA DIGGING FOR PRECIOUS RESOURCES AMONG URBAN WASTE, IS THE NEW GOLD, IF YOU WILL…

Cloaking their identities by wearing balaclavas and hoodies, shamed by the lack of dignity associated with their work, these are the nameless, faceless men who trawl through our trash in search of waste.

Diverting the trash away from landfills, it is then sorted into waste streams for sale to buy-back centres.

Recycled waste collected by these ‘urban miners’, feeds R8.2-billion per year worth of resources back into the South African economy. High unemployment, has led to the creation of a vast nomadic waste picker workforce, themselves key in dealing with consumer waste.

Aside from the positive work these ‘urban miners’ are doing, their physical commitment to task is superhuman, dragging loads sometimes double their body weight through undulating terrain. Far from their home communities, sleeping rough in order to find their specific waste stream in lucrative areas, and working before the sun rises; the daily experience of the urban miner is one of isolation.

YOUNG + CO are passionate about up-cycling, re-cycling and green spaces, and mentor a workforce of 400 Urban Waste Miners, who indirectly serve the environment through re-cycling as a means of income. We focus on supporting their small businesses with innovative initiatives to enhance their business as a collective, whilst helping supporting their families.