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While many are applauding Johannesburg’s move towards environmental consciousness, the truth is that "separation at source" sidelines and threatens the livelihoods of thousands of informal recyclers, whose immense contribution to the reduction of solid waste in the city goes unrecognised.On June 5, World Environment Day, Nico de Jager, the member of the Johannesburg mayoral committee responsible for environment and infrastructure services, announced the mandatory roll-out of a separation at source programme. As of July, all households in the city are required to separate their waste into colour-coded plastic bags: one for recyclable materials such as aluminium, plastic, paper and glass; and another for other household waste.Residents are asked to place the bags beside their usual waste on collection day. From there, a recycling truck owned by a private company that has won a tender from the city will pick up the blue bags and transport them to a recycling depot, and sell the recycla...

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