Innovative Local Government Procurement: Integrating Recycling SMMEs

Report by Local South for the Economic Development Partnership (EDP)

Case studies from across South Africa which present three innovative ways of ways of successful procurement to integrate small-scale waste recycling entities into the formal waste economy.

Waste pickers sort through recycled waste before it is weighed at Mike’s Recycling Workshop, Vrygrond, Cape Town. Credit: Ashraf Hendricks  

Like many global cities, South Africa’s cities grapple with high volumes of waste and shrinking landfill sites. Small-scale waste recycling centers and informal waste pickers offer a powerful solution: by sorting waste efficiently and economically, they ease the pressure on the city’s waste system while creating local employment.

However, these smaller entities face many challenges when it comes to integrating into the formal recycling economy. Chief among these is navigating government procurement processes, which favor larger companies that can steer through the complex tender processes and meet the stringent requirements.

This means that contractors are slowly displacing local entities already operating in many neighborhoods, while the smaller players are prevented from bringing their real value to the metro areas and citizens alike.

There is hope however. Though four unique case studies developed from field research and interviews with experts, practitioners, city officials in Drakenstein Municipality, eThekwini, Cape Town, and Worcester, the consultancy Local South on behalf of the EDP has identified three innovative ways of successful, safe and legal procurement with small entities.

These case studies provide other African cities with potential models as they pioneer their own approaches toward bringing small businesses into the circular economy. They will be of interest to local, national, and international practitioners, given the huge lack of global research in this area.

Download the full PDF publication.

Simon Sizwe Mayson, EDP Programme Lead explains how a more collaborative approach to innovative procurement could help build an inclusive, circular waste economy that benefits small businesses while safeguarding government procurement processes.