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Recycling under the Blue Sky of Cape Town

Recycling under the Blue Sky of Cape Town

“If you can keep somebody’s dignity intact and teach a person just the basics of how to make it forward, then sky’s the limit”. John McKerry, Blue Sky Recycling

 

“If you can keep somebody’s dignity intact and teach a person just the basics of how to make it forward, then sky’s the limit”. John McKerry, Blue Sky Recycling

Philippi, Khayelitsha, Mitchells Plain, Gugulethu. These are the names of Cape Town’s townships, where barracks, municipal housing and litter tell the story of unemployment in South Africa. Townships are deprived of everything, except for rubbish: it is everywhere, either scattered on the streets or dumped in the landfills.

Some people are trying to make a living out of collecting recyclables and selling them by the kilo for just a few South African Rands. Most of them are women, family mothers (so called Mamas), contributing to keeping the environment clean from all kinds of waste, especially glass, metal, paper and plastic.

John, Gershwin and the team from Blue Sky Recycling, are running a buy back center for the recyclable waste collected by the informal workers in the townships. They act as the middle man, but with a difference: their purpose is to create a steady livelihood for who could not otherwise earn a living, empowering people to lead better lives.

Manager and team leader John “Trouble” McKerry works near the people in the township and is trusted by them. He knows what they are going through because he has been through it himself, however, “trouble” in his name means he is not to be messed with. Ever practical, he believes “cash is keen” and it’s the best motivator for recycling.

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