Nomfundo Mkhaba uplifting her community through waste management.: Image: GCIS Vuk’uzenzele

One person’s waste is another person’s meal ticket

Nomfundo Mkhaba (35) co-founder of Waste for Change encourages her community to reduce, reuse and recycle!


Nomfundo Mkhaba uplifting her community through waste management.: Image: GCIS Vuk’uzenzele

Nomfundo Mkhaba (35) from Umkomaas in KwaZulu-Natal co-founded Waste for Change in 2019 to encourage her community to adopt the three Rs: Reduce, Recycle and Reuse.

Through her organisation, Mkhaba wants to create a safe living environment by reducing the waste that ends up in rubbish dumps. She would like to see communities taking responsibility for the spaces they live in and keeping them clean.

Mkhaba started her recycling journey after realising how many illegal dumpsites there were in her community. She decided to show people that waste can be used to make money.

Every Saturday, the organisation collects waste from illegal dumpsites in low-income communities and separates things that can be recycled or reused, such as plastic and glass bottles, cans, paper and cardboard boxes.

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Through this initiative, Mkhaba has been able to build and sustain relationships with the local municipality, community-based organisations, local schools and other stakeholders. She aims to get as many organisations and people as possible involved in her drive to educate the community about looking after their environment and to create training opportunities to show people how they can earn an income through waste.

The organisation currently has 30 litter pickers. Although it does not employ them permanently, they receive money from buy-back centres for the recyclable waste they collect.

Waste for Change has received support and 30 collection bags for recyclable plastic waste from the PET Recycling Company, a non-profit company that promotes plastics recycling and supports community organisations involved in recycling projects.

Mkhaba says Waste for Change has been able to assist 30 families with food parcels.

Her Women’s Month message is: “Women for decades have worked the land, have nurtured nature and for that to continue to happen, we need solidarity among women.”

To get hold of Nomfundo Mkhaba, email Waste for Change at wasteforchange@gmail.com(link sends e-mail) or Nomfundo.Mkhaba@gmail.com(link sends e-mail)

For more information on recycling, call the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment at 086 111 2468, email sawic@environment.gov.za(link sends e-mail) or visit www.dffe.gov.za or www.sawic.gov.za

Written by: Ursula Graaff

This article was originally published in the GCIS Vuk’uzenzele.