Waste Act regulations to rule waste classification, management, leach testing, screening, risk profiling and disposal prohibitions from 2011, will be out for comment by June 2010.
A June 3 Waste Act workshop, hosted by CAIA in Johannesburg, and a June 4 Waste Act workshop in Durban, are among the preparations that business and state are making to change waste SHEQ management from a disposal paradigm, to a minimisation, separation, recovery and recycling paradigm.
SHEQafrica.com editor SHEQafrica commented that a new era in waste management was sorely needed.
Early indications are that government authorities are set to further complicate compliance and investment in the waste sector, already beset by low margins, high costs, as well as onerous and selectively enforced administrative measures, beyond the equipment and skills capacity of some operators, and beyond most government operators, like unlicensed municipal separation and landfill sites.
Hazardous waste contracts, particularly government contracts, are prone to exploitation by fraudulent or deficient handling, storage, treatment and disposal practices, as several health care waste and toxic waste sagas have revealed.
Handlers forced to report
Hanré Crous, senior environmental scientist at Environmental Science Associates, advises industry that the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) in 2009 started a revision of the waste classification system in the former Water Affairs set of Minimum Requirements for Handling, Classification and Disposal of Hazardous Waste, of 1998, to support a move away from landfill towards recovery and reuse.
DEA also aimed to bolster implementation of the classification system that eluded authorities, industry and waste managers over the past 12 years. A framework for revision of the Waste Classification and Management System was developed.
Waste classification may soon require identification of specific hazardous properties, characteristics and components of waste, in terms of SANS 10234, the locally adopted standard in line with the Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS).
Waste management options and procedures may soon be prescribed in legislation. Waste categorisation and reporting according to the Waste Information System (WIS), developed by the CSIR, may be enforced. The revised system would ultimately be formalised into regulations and standards in terms of the National Environmental Management: Waste Act, 59 of 2008.
First drafts of some new regulations were presented to stakeholders in March 2010, including;
• Draft National Waste Classification and Management Regulations, in terms of section 69(1) of the Waste Act
• Daft national standard for Leach Tests and Screening Values for Risk Profiling of Waste, in terms of section 7(1)(a) of the Waste Act
• Draft national standard for Disposal of Waste to Landfill, in terms of section 7(1)(c) of the Waste Act.
Maintaining a ‘waste manifest’ system would be one of the new requirements, along with a mechanism for efficient licensing and managing of reuse, recycling and recovery. The standard for risk profiling of waste include specific requirements for leach test methods and three levels of threshold values for leachable and total concentrations of contaminants in waste, for disposal to land.
The standard for landfill sets requirements for disposal of waste to specific types of landfill based on the risk profile of waste, and includes certain landfill restrictions that prohibit landfilling of certain wastes.
These draft documents could be gazetted for comment in June, and the draft standards in October, before promulgation early in 2011.
Separation before landfill
Martin Ginster, environmental advisor on water and cleaner production at Sasol SH&E Centre in Rosebank, Johannesburg, says the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) intends to legislate for diversion of waste resources away from disposal, through introducing more stringent waste acceptance criteria to landfill operators.
The state aims to incentivise waste generators to practice avoidance, minimisation, re-use and recycling, with landfill as a last resort. The chemicals sector may have to make major adjustments in future, in line with international examples in cleaner production.
Remediation rules vague
Dr Jonathan McStay, director at WSP Environmental, says remediation of contaminated land must form part of a comprehensive environmental strategy for sustainable management of environmental resources, in line with the constitutional right to an environment that is not harmful to human health.
Remediation of contaminated land is well established in South Africa, yet there is no single consistent set of guidelines or legally applied regulations to assess status or risk posed by contaminated land, or to guide state acceptance of remediation plans.
A Framework for Management of Contaminated Land was compiled in support of Part 8 of the Waste Act of 2008 to provide ‘norms and standards’ for enabling identification and registration of contaminated sites, provide a risk-based decision support protocol for site assessment, and guide site assessment reports submission formats. McStay recommends a ‘duty of care’ approach.
Waste disposal regulations draft
Marius van Zyl, senior environmental scientist at Jones and Wagener consulting civil engineers, says draft waste classification and disposal regulations currently being developed by the DEA, would have a profound impact on waste management activities once promulgated.
Current licensing of waste management facilities is ruled by principles in the National Environmental Management Act, and specific aspects in the Waste Act, 59 of 2008, and the National Water Act, 36 of 1998.
Definitions of waste types and by-products are given in the two Acts. Several waste management activities require licensing. Some activities listed in Government Notices 718 and 719 of 2009, while impact assessment regulations are covered in Government Notice 385 of 2006.
The former Department of Water Affairs’ Minimum Requirements Series play a major role in licensing landfill sites.
Sanet Jacobs, legal compliance and risk manager at Omnia Group, notes that the Waste Act pertains to practical implementation of operator responsibility regarding waste generation, handling, storage and transport.
Waste storage requires an inventory, designated area, inspections, and registers. Waste generators should require certain documentation and certifications of their service providers. Requirements for treatment, processing and disposal include health, safely and environmental impact management.
* June 3 Waste Act Gauteng workshop; hosted by CAIA; Johannesburg Country Club, 1 Napier Road, Auckland Park, Johannesburg; Members R750, non members R950; 011 482 1671, fax: 011 726 8310, firstname.lastname@example.org
* June 4 Waste Act KZN workshop, hosted by CAIA; Sica’s Guesthouse, 19 Owen Avenue, Durban, 031 261 2768; Members R750, non members R950; 011 482 1671, fax: 011 726 8310, email@example.com