Research THEMES


Explore job creation opportunities along the waste value chain

Business models

Understand business models to support a secondary resources economy, with a particular focus on SMME’s

Behaviour Change

Understand society’s perceptions and behaviour to reduce landfilling and increase diversion


Research Aims


Aim 1

To identify opportunities that will lead to the creation of jobs and improvement of livelihoods through the transition away from landfilling in South Africa.

Aim 3

To explore and identify best practice strategies towards behaviour change and thus developing local appropriate strategies for the South African context towards waste prevention, reuse, and recycling

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During the development of the Waste RDI Roadmap, the DSI emphasised that although environmental and economic benefits of diverting waste from landfill are clear, the social benefits had not yet been determined. This research area will focus on providing reliable data on the direct and indirect job creation opportunities for the different waste streams and different waste diversion activities in South Africa. The research should contribute to improving the livelihoods of those working in the waste and secondary resources economy.

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Behavioural changes are needed to drive the transition away from landfilling, including supportive behavioural change interventions, such as awareness and communication strategies for South Africa in a developing country context. Due to the fact that only 7,2% in urban areas and 2,6% of people in rural areas recycle, the Research Chair will assist to understand and change waste and recycling behaviour. It will further assist with the development of appropriate interventions.

Aim 2

To develop business models able to support a secondary resources economy, with a particular focus on SMMEs.

Aim 4

To ensure Human Capacity Development between 2018 – 2023 by funding honours, masters, doctoral and post-doctoral scholarships.

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The process of diverting waste from the landfill can potentially create job opportunities and encourage enterprise development. This research will focus on the provision of evidence based business models and opportunities in the waste and secondary resources sector in South Africa. According to the DSI/NRF/CSIR call, the research should also address the informal sector and their role and integration into the waste economy, which includes identifying ways in which the livelihoods of the waste pickers might be improved.

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The participants will benefit from a well-established postgraduate research infrastructure in the University of the Western Cape and the relevant collaborating Faculties. The postgraduate infrastructure offers block week formats for structured research training for Masters and PhD programmes. Students benefit from interdisciplinary approaches which enhance the application of theory and practice across different disciplines using an evidence based perspective. Postgraduate students also benefit from various academic experiences and exposure such as supervising research projects of honours level students and mentoring Masters students, participating in writing retreats, seminars, research projects, fieldwork and providing buddy doctoral support to each other.


Data collection areas: Calvinia, Fisantekraal, Limpopo, Paarl, Phillipolis


Limpopo 2019

Calvinia 2019

PAARL 2019