Tracking Informal Waste Collection Trolleys in South Africa with the Oyster2 GPS

Company Profile

Urban Surfer

Implemented Products

Informal Recycling in South Africa 

Currently, more than 90,000 people in South Africa are making a living from collecting, sorting, and selling recyclable waste. According to the United Nation’s Industrial Development Organization, these ‘waste pickers’ collect between 80% and 90% of the country’s post-consumer plastic and paper packaging. The economic impacts of this are significant. In 2014, reclaimers saved municipalities R750 million in landfill space.

To improve the lives and efficiency of these often marginalized ‘reclaimers,’ Urban Surfer, an Informal Recycling Solutions Provider based in Gauteng, South Africa, provide collection trolleys, collection bags, and other gear to help gather waste and recycling across the community.

waste collection trolley

From left to right Urban Surfer waste pickers, Maria Bester, Malindi Myaka and Tracy Mahlangu. Photo: Brian Gibbs


Oyster2 2G for Collection Trolley Tracking and Waste Data Gathering: 

The Urban Surfer initiative aims to recognize informal waste reclaimers as active and equal participants in political, economic, social, cultural, and environmental processes. Waste reclaimers who’ve joined the project in Gauteng – specifically Johannesburg for now – are also known as Urban Surfers.

With 50 trolleys currently in use as the pilot project, sponsored by, a comparison website, Urban Surfers required a way to track the waste collection trolleys as they moved throughout Gauteng.

Trip data obtained from tracking each trolley is used to identify areas of waste collection for what is known as the Extended Producer Responsibility, a key policy instrument to address the increasing volumes of plastic pollution.

The data retrieved also outlines hotspots for garbage retrieval as well as distances traveled by individuals when collecting waste, providing greater insight into waste management while also helping with security and theft prevention. The use of geofencing allows for specific areas or different zones to be defined and sends an alert if a trolley exits these designated areas.

Each collection trolley is also sponsored and branded, so the ability to track them provides the opportunity to obtain data insights for the sponsors into their brand penetration and coverage throughout the area.

Collection trolley

Featuring up to 5 years of battery life on 3 user-replaceable AA batteries, the Oyster2 battery-powered GPS offers outdoor tracking and operates on Cellular 2G networks. The compact and ultra-rugged Oyster2 is also IP67-rated, which ensures the device can withstand rough conditions.

As the collection trolleys move around a large area, retrieving devices to change the batteries can be expensive and time-consuming.  Periodic and movement-based tracking on the Oyster2 allows Urban Surfer to track the collection trolleys at designated periods throughout the day, or when movement occurs, and the device also enters sleep mode when stationary for long periods of time to conserve battery life. Built-in Battery Monitoring on the Oyster2 also enables timely low-battery alerts.

Additionally, the Oyster2 can be configured to send alerts for when preventative maintenance needs to be scheduled on usage to ensure equipment is serviced regularly, minimizing trolley downtime and reducing maintenance costs.

Urban Surfers can also manage all their devices remotely and at scale using Device Manager, our robust device management platform.

“The Oyster2 fulfilled all of Urban Surfer’s collection trolley tracking requirements as an ultra-rugged and long-life battery-powered asset tracking device,” says John Kullmann, Head of Design and Development at Urban Surfer. “Providing an overview of active areas and distance traveled by each individual is crucial in providing greater insight into the informal recycling industry in South Africa.”

reporting and tracking - waste collection trolleys

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