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Informal reclaimers in the context of a circular economy

In most African cities, waste reclaimers in the informal waste sector collect high-value post-consumer products for reuse and to sell as input materials into the recycling economy. For many, this is their entire livelihood, which in most cases remains predominantly unacknowledged.

This simplified, yet comprehensive factsheet provides insights into the multifaceted and highly beneficial role of informal reclaimers in cities across five African countries – Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa and Uganda. Through their activities, informal reclaimers (or waste pickers) divert various end-of-life materials which would otherwise end up as waste in landfills and pollution in nature.  This is a responsibility that many packaging producers have abandoned, and most African cities are grappling with the effects of overflowing waste systems. The factsheet further highlights informal reclaimers’ roles and efforts for inclusion in the formal waste arena which requires intentional recognition and support through policy measures. 

This factsheet concludes with clear recommendations, making the case for a transition to an inclusive and more sustainable economy in the African context, in which the informal waste sector is brought into the mainstream on the journey to an integrated circular economy.

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Informal reclaimers in the context of a circular economy

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