Thousands of free market recyclers may be about to lose their jobs

The City of Joburg wants to introduce laws that will force residents i.e households to separate their own rubbish.  This will be part of the new waste-management bylaws being drafted by the City.

This may sound like a great idea, but it really isn’t.  South Africa’s major cities have some of the cheapest and most effective waste recycling industries in the world.  Our current recyclers move around our neighbourhoods in the wee hours of the morning, picking through our rubbish once a week before the municipal refuse removers come to take it away, and dump the rubbish in landfills.

Soon you might be jobless mate

Soon you might be jobless mate

They earn a living recycling other people’s rubbish.  They go through our rubbish, picking out objects of value that can be recycled.  They then sell these objects to recyclers, earning an income from it.  This is what keeps them alive.

They choose to do this out of free will, because it is their best alternative. Because of minimum wage laws, labour market regulation, and labour unions restricting labour market competition, these people can’t compete with unionised workers for their jobs.

It is sad to say that these new by-laws may destroy recycling jobs by the thousands.  These are low-income jobs taken up by people who are already homeless or near homeless. They might not even know it, but they are providing an essential and cheap service to everyone.  If you are a recycler and this job is about to be taken away from you, what will your next best source of income be?  Recycler2


3 Responses to “Thousands of free market recyclers may be about to lose their jobs”

  1. Bokkeman says:

    Perhaps the free market recyclers will not lose their jobs – they’ll just become more efficient! We’ll be doing their work for them, sorting it all out for them to collect before the garbage trucks come round. Having their product pre-sorted will allow them to cover a larger area and collect more product – earning them more money.
    So perhaps this measure is designed to improve their lot!

    • GrtB says:

      If we do the work for them, then we must be working for them. Imagine that, a garbage collector being my employer, and if I refuse, well… My time sorting for his benefit without compensation. Soon we will be taxed (so to speak) on our free time as well.

  2. Hard Rain says:

    Now now, Mr. Galt, the government is here to liberate these poor serfs from their baneful fate. Nobody deserves to have to work so hard for so little, so better not to work at all!