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BlueSky Recycling, formerly known as the Solid Waste Network, was founded in 2006 to help connect informal waste pickers to available markets. Employing six full-time workers, BlueSky helps to provide a growing network of over 1000 pickers with a viable and steady income. The organization operates with a “For the Picker – By the Picker” attitude.
Each week, the BlueSky team collects recyclables such as glass, plastic, paper, etc., from pickers in the townships. Pickers receive cash according to the weight of the recyclables collected, often providing them with their only steady source of income. This steady cash flow can provide individuals and families with a sense of security. For some, the income made through recycling goes towards buying groceries. For others, the money made is invested or used to make much needed repairs to homes.
BlueSky is not just a recycling program, but a livelihood program. Team Leader John McKerry describes it best, saying, “When some people talk about recycling , they only look at material. We are looking at much more than that. We are looking at recycling people’s attitude towards life, their visions, the whole idea of ‘Why are we here?’”
Moving into the future, BlueSky sees the need to accommodate the growing number of pickers by increasing its infrastructure and sustainability. The organization is currently implementing a new Buy Back program, centralizing collection for BlueSky as the women serve as contact points for the pickers in their area. The women enlisted in this program gain the opportunity to operate their own business. Doing so will increase BlueSky’s efficiency, helping the organization to expand its reach to more individuals in the townships.