Decolonizing Recycling Presentation for Reclaiming Waste Conference November

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Decolonizing Recycling Presentation for Reclaiming Waste Conference, November 6, 2019 Dr. Melanie Samson, Wits

Decolonizing Recycling Presentation for Reclaiming Waste Conference, November 6, 2019 Dr. Melanie Samson, Wits University

Just like colonialism “We started recycling way back in the mid-nineties. Why does the

Just like colonialism “We started recycling way back in the mid-nineties. Why does the municipality have to show up represented by its executives and say ‘we have to entirely take over ukubenza [your work]’? . . . The problem is the municipality that wants to snatch the food out of our mouths……What are they going to do for us if they stop us from recycling or take it away from us as theirs? This is truly stealing, it’s not different from colonialism. There is no way to justify this because it is wrong in all angles” Reuben Mbabisa Manifesto, July 13, 2017

Overview 1. Separation outside source (So. S) in Johannesburg 2. Contracting private companies to

Overview 1. Separation outside source (So. S) in Johannesburg 2. Contracting private companies to do separation at source ([email protected]) as colonialization 3. What does it mean to decolonize recycling

1. Separation outside Source

1. Separation outside Source

Diagram by M Samson, D Seegers and J van den Bussche

Diagram by M Samson, D Seegers and J van den Bussche

2. S@S as colonisation

2. [email protected] as colonisation

Diagram by M Samson, D Seegers and J van den Bussche

Diagram by M Samson, D Seegers and J van den Bussche

4 Colonial assumptions 1. Colonies Mapped as empty or wasteful 2. Construction of race

4 Colonial assumptions 1. Colonies Mapped as empty or wasteful 2. Construction of race and human waste 3. Paternalism 4. Racial Capitalism

3. Decolonizing Recycling

3. Decolonizing Recycling

Definition of integration Waste picker integration is the creation of an officially planned recycling

Definition of integration Waste picker integration is the creation of an officially planned recycling system that values and improves the present role of waste pickers, builds on the strengths of their informal system to collect and revalue materials, and includes waste pickers as key partners in its design, implementation, evaluation and revision. Waste picker integration includes the integration of waste pickers’ work, as well as the political, economic, social, legal and environmental integration of waste pickers.

Diagram by M Samson, D Seegers and J van den Bussche

Diagram by M Samson, D Seegers and J van den Bussche

Waste Picker Integration Principles 1. Recognition, respect and redress 2. Waste pickers know best

Waste Picker Integration Principles 1. Recognition, respect and redress 2. Waste pickers know best what they want 3. Meaningful engagement 4. Build on what exists 5. Cost effective, increased diversion 6. Evidence-based 7. Enabling environment 8. Improved conditions and income 9. Compensation for services and savings 10. Holistic integration

Decolonisation takes struggle Guideline is just a guideline Creates opening, but doesn’t shift power

Decolonisation takes struggle Guideline is just a guideline Creates opening, but doesn’t shift power Still inserted in top-down governance, contracting state, class interests Not just a municipal service – nexus of production, destruction, and revalorization of commodities Transformation of the industry But is focusing on deracializing the existing industry Rogers – role of recycling in staving off meaningful change Waste as a renewable resource, circular

Reclaimers, Just Transition and Degrowth Reclaimers – need to be present so are included

Reclaimers, Just Transition and Degrowth Reclaimers – need to be present so are included in just transition, but transition to what? Circular, environmentally destructive, exploitative capitalist project? Or degrowth Imagining and forging a radically different future Move beyond contributions to recycling, to contribution to environmentally, economically, socially, culturally just world

Thank you Dr Melanie Samson, University of the Witwatersrand melanie. samson@wits. ac. za

Thank you Dr Melanie Samson, University of the Witwatersrand melanie. [email protected] ac. za