His is a fascinating tale of a man who, nine years ago, was forced to migrate to Harare in search of opportunities after losing his job as a bartender in Murewa.
After having toiled day and night in search of formal jobs with no luck, Gwishiri was encouraged by a friend to venture into a rare waste recycling business, with the main focus being plastic papers and containers.

A NewsDay crew recently visited Gwishiri at his workstation — which is an open ditch in Mbare — where he was sorting and selecting plastics that included bags and empty drink bottles.

“If there was any other way, I would have been employed formally, as is any other person’s aspirations. But look, this is what is there and this is my only option, which I have embraced since 2009, making a living out of recycling plastics,” he said.

Although people, who see Gwishiri scrounging garbage dumpsites can easily mistake him for a hobo, for him, this is a job like any other. He defies the ever-present threat of contracting disease, as he rakes through heaps of waste, sorting through unimaginable trash without any protective clothing in search of plastic “treasures”.

“I get the material I want from Pomona and also some other dumpsites which are around the city. I know there is the risk of contracting diseases and all, but I am a father, who has school going children, therefore, this is my only way out,” Gwishiri said.

“The best I have tried to do is to acquire knowledge on some of the plastics that are known to contain harmful substances, especially from industrial areas, so that I can avoid them.”

The plastic material that Gwishiri collects, once he sorts through it, is sold mainly to Chinese buyers for a paltry 35 to 45 cents per kilogramme, and the buyers go on to melt it and make newer plastic bags, cups and dishes among other plastic ware products.

Sometimes the Chinese buyers visit Gwishiri’s workstation in search of the plastics because the recycling trade keeps attracting many people in the capital, competition has grown, necessitating the need to take wares to the Chinese industrial shops instead of waiting for the traditional visits.

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