By Tania du Toit
Bin scavengers’ resourceful retrieval of plastic, cardboard and other materials for survival purposes is well known. There are even municipalities and private initiatives that facilitate this secondary refuse industry through the provision of additional bright yellow refuse bins; follow the links below for this splendid example from Krugersdorp.
Unfortunately there are also cases where bin scavengers harvest your personal refuse for macabre purposes. Perhaps this does not bother most people at all (perhaps out of ignorance), but there are ways around this situation if it offends you.
Almost a decade ago, on my municipal refuse removal day, I noticed a bin scavenger with a “different” retrieval trolley. His trolley looked a lot like those of the other bin entrepreneurs until I took a close look. Normally large (white) bags are mounted and stretched around mobile frames that are pulled or pushed around. This guy’s trolley, however, had a collection of smaller, separate bags. They were lined up next to each other, each hanging from a small frame with a cover over every bag; the whole contraption was on wheels. The man was searching the neighbours’ bin, but did not retrieve the usual cartons or plastic containers. At my question as to what he was looking for, he said he was looking for human waste to mix with “medicine” for ritual use. He was working through the neighbours’ disposable nappies. And much more. More graphic detail is unnecessary.
The following week he was back. On his way to our bin on the pavement a male person in my house this time made enquiries and got the same answer. We then decided to keep our bin in our yard until the refuse truck turned up and so avoided confrontation. This medicine man is still active in my neighbourhood from time to time.
This discovery made me change our refuse-bin routine ─ fortunately I was in a position to do so. The bin is no longer left on the pavement but in the yard until the truck picks it up in front of my eyes. This is a lot of trouble and merely an interim measure, because naturally one cannot guarantee that this will not happen when refuse is dumped on the refuse dumps. Enquiries at the municipality confirmed that there isn’t much that can be done about this officially and that at this stage individual “bin management” is recommended.
The best solution is to place nothing containing human DNA in your municipal refuse bin. Items such as nail parings, hair from hair brushes, facial tissues, cotton buds, etc. can be safely incinerated at home on a small scale, or be buried. Nonetheless, the best long-term solution is probably a household (sanitary) incinerator. This will initially cost a few rands, but indirectly it could also save money in that untimely blocked drains due to the thoughtless flushing of sanitary products by occupants, guests and tenants can also be avoided.
It is true that what the eye does not see, the heart does not grieve over. Alas, I find the use of human waste for the above-mentioned purpose disgusting and unacceptable. I therefore go to a lot of trouble to avoid exposure to this and I want to make like-minded readers aware of it.
City of Tshwane. “Waste Removal”: http://www.tshwane.gov.za/sites/Departments/Agriculture-and-Environment-Managemental/WasteRemoval/Pages/Waste-Removal.aspx
Infrastructure News. “Should the Focus rather be on Waste-to Energy_ than Incineration”: http://www.infrastructurene.ws/2013/05/15/should-the-focus-rather-be-on-waste-to-energy-than-incineration/
Krugersdorp News. “Dustbin Diggers Pilot Project reaches Phase two”: https://krugersdorpnews.co.za/329928/weekend-dustbin-diggers-pilot-project-reaches-phase-two/
SA Incinerator Co. “Products”: http://www.saincinerator.com/products.html
South Africa. The Good News. “Dustbin Diggers derserve Dignity”: https://www.sagoodnews.co.za/dustbin-diggers-deserve-dignity/