Waste reclaimers who collect packaging waste perform one of the toughest, yet most important jobs in the circular economy and up until now, they have remained mostly invisible and unbanked. Through a partnership with BanQu, Coca‑Cola is helping to roll out an innovative digital payments solution to financially empower waste reclaimers and small buy-back centres across South Africa.
More than 60 000 waste reclaimers in the country earn a living by collecting packaging waste, many of whom are unable to find work or formal employment. Much of what reclaimers collect is sold through small buy-back centres before ultimately reaching larger recyclers.
The payments solution enables waste reclaimers to build a financial history on their mobile phones - reclaimers don’t require expensive smart phones, the system sends a simple SMS when a payment is processed. The innovative technology is fully integrated with mobile money applications so waste reclaimers can store their earnings in secure e-wallets, withdraw cash from ATMs and make cashless transactions. Importantly, they can demonstrate their earnings if they want to access credit, promoting their financial inclusion into the economy.
By recording the contribution of the informal sector as a whole to the recycling value chain, the platform improves both understanding and recognition of the important contribution of waste reclaimers and buy-back centres.
Using the application helps small buy-back centres to better understand their businesses using automated recording and tracking of transactions. Geolocation capabilities provide valuable data in real time about the types of materials collected in particular areas.
The partnership is part of Coca‑Cola’s World Without Waste strategy to collect and recycle a bottle or can for each one sold by 2030 by supporting the local recycling sector and promoting a circular economy.