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5.4.3.2 Environmental benefits
Some participants were quite articulate on how the industry was of benefit; whilst others did not give detailed information on how but just said it keeps the environment clean. The direct benefits identified were waste reduction, reduced pollution and a safe environment hence less health hazards and conservation of environmental resources through use secondary materials. Fifty-three percent of the participants pointed that recycling saves natural resources through the use of secondary raw materials thereby reducing dependency on virgin raw material. In addition, extraction of virgin materials e.g. minerals was said to be associated with environmental destruction. Participants emphasized the importance of recycling as a way of reducing environmental destruction.
Recycling reduces pollution. Twenty–seven percent of the participants had this to say. They argued that waste is linked to environmental challenges such as pollution if disposed either through open or crude dumping, burning, land filling or feeding animals or disposing in water bodies such as oceans. Pollution of surface and groundwater in a dry country such as Namibia has serious repercussions since the resource is so limited. With more waste, especially e-waste, disposed at landfill sites, potential of groundwater contamination are continually increasing. In Windhoek, it was highlighted that there was a lot of aquifers on the southern part of the City where the main landfill site Kupferberg is situated. It is therefore important to ensure that pollution of groundwater is minimized in this area. Thus recycling made a lot of sense in this regard.
Apart from this, 60% of the participants revealed that recycling keeps the environment clean. In areas where recycling is not practiced, litter is found scattered and was considered to result in negative effects on both the environmental and health (human and animal). Litter all over was considered unsightly. In Okahandja town, company C official was concerned about the problem of plastic waste particularly along the highway in trees. This was not pleasing considering the road is used by tourists visiting different parts of the country. The suggestion to upscale recycling awareness in the town for people to desist from reckless management of their plastic waste was recommended. The official was of the opinion that even though it was not easy to cultivate the new culture of recycling among the general public, with concerted effort keep the environment could be free of litter.
Not only is the environment at risk with litter, people as well as animals are also exposed. In the absence of pastoral grass during drought, animals like cattle, were reported feeding on anything e.g. plastics. In addition, children were also at risk. According to document search, the drive into recycling by company F was a result of lack of hygiene, general state of litter, injuries and lacerations inflicted on children from broken bottles. Thus, there was a strong drive to recycle as a way of getting rid of litter.
The City of Windhoek’s quest to continue providing an efficient waste management service resulted in the adoption of IWMA, one of the core principles governing their SWM Policy of 2009. Since the adoption of this Policy, recycling efforts were scaled up in order to reduce volumes of waste disposed as it was becoming challenging to manage their disposal sites. Satellite dumpsites had already filled and decommissioned. Thus, to the City recycling was a welcome development in order to reduce waste. The site manager of the contracted company managing Kupferberg landfill confirmed that recycling was helping the City as he postulated that the landfill would have filled up had it not been for recycling. According to Ferronato et. al., 2016 and Momoh and Oladebeye (2010) recycling has been viewed as a tool in minimizing the amount of household solid wastes that enter the dump-sites. However, the research found out that more work still needs to be done since a lot of recyclable raw material is still entering the dumpsites. Through the interviews and document search, it was revealed that recycling is not doing much to reduce waste volumes disposed at the landfill site.
5.4.3.3 Social Benefits
In addition to environmental and economic benefits, the study established that the industry was a source of livelihood for some people in society particularly the poor as supported by 26% of participants. Even though it was pointed out that their earnings were quite low, it was considered a great benefit as it afforded them to put something on the table. In some major towns such as Windhoek, Walvis Bay and Swakopmund, informal waste pickers were now part of the recycling chain as they were contracted to pick recyclable raw material for sale to the formal recycling companies. In Windhoek, at Kupferberg landfill site , it was revealed that two companies contracted an organized cooperative of informal waste collectors that has been operating at the Kupferberg Landfill since 2000.
In Windhoek, companies A and F three quarters of their workforce were women. The supervisor for Company F said man shunned the work especially sorting or street picking recyclables because they said it was demeaning to be seen doing that especially by women. Nevertheless, the industry has been commended to be doing something for the unskilled women. This situation is not different from findings by Manhart (2011) in a study on e-waste recycling, in Nigeria, where people who are being employed in recycling industry were especially from rural areas because recycling does not always require specific skills. Thus, anyone can get a job as long as they are willing to cope with the nature of job. Participants further highlighted that if government could do more to come up with policies that support this industry this can assist with easing the problem of unemployment in the country.
Informal food vendors were beneficiaries of the industry as they sold their food stuff especially roasted meat to workers of recycling companies. The industry was also promoting some small scale business entrepreneurs such as those in food making industry as the researcher learnt from company E. The entrepreneurs were seen selling roasted meat (kapana) to recycling workers nearby. “This gentleman has been selling ‘kapana’ here for the past 10 years,” said company official E official.
5.4.3.4 Summary
Even though the industry is still in its infancy, all participants commended the industry’s welcome development particularly in terms of employment creation. With employment comes a lot of other benefits such as improvement in standard of living, housing, food, clothing, medical, children going to school, builds confidence, women empowerment, and reduced family conflict, crime, poverty, disgruntlement, social ills, loitering, less stealing, prostitution, passion killings, drug abuse, alcohol abuse, marriage breakdowns, government handouts and tax payer burden. According to literature, the finding where in agreement with a number of citations confirming that recycling has economic, environmental and social benefits (Chanda, 2014; Mosia, 2014; Muzenda, 2013; Tischler; 2013 Nahman, 2009; Hickman, et al. 2009).