Exploring socio-dynamic behaviour/s and its connectedness to waste reclaimers


South Africa generates over 50 000 tons of waste daily which provides insight into urban lifestyles. As a country, recycling within households is not a priority or policed which creates opportunities for others to recycle waste on behalf of households. Waste reclaimers are a familiar sight on streets, seen pulling large plastic bags on wooden trolleys filled with plastic, cardboard, cans, paper and pieces of metal. Although the job of the reclaimer is often seen as a form of scavenging that encourages negative perceptions towards such individuals, waste reclaimers play an integral role in recycling waste.



The project adopted by the fine art students at the University of Pretoria in collaboration with fine art students from the University of Johannesburg and Artist Proof Studio looked at the socio-political/economic relationships between waste reclaimers and urban communities. The intention is to highlight the marginalized lives of waste reclaimers because of the work that they perform but to also focus on the important role that they play in waste management.


The importance of this project is the learning that takes place outside the walls of higher education and for students to develop further skills in investigating, questioning and developing critical thinking skills when engaged in this project. More importantly, the project looks at the value of human dignity and how this is inscribed in the way we respond to reclaimers.


The approach to this project looks at different methods that will be used to understand the life of a reclaimer, one-on-one interviews with reclaimers, a colloquium, photovoice and an exhibition of artworks made by students and professional artists.



Art works by Margot van Rensburg, Rozelle Greyling, and Thabang Moashe