Waste Strategy and Waste Regulations drafted

A new SA Waste Management Strategy, Waste Regulations and standards, would specify and enforce Waste Act measures in 2011.

Handing of general, commercial, industrial and hazardous waste streams would be ruled by a National Waste Management Strategy (NWMS), already circulated, under authority of the Waste Act, and due for publication early in 2011.

Hazardous waste generators would acquire extended producer responsibility, and would have to report to a national waste manifest system, according to a hazardous waste classification system.

The reporting system has been in development by the CSIR for some years, named Waste Information System (WIS). Despite legal status, it had failed in implementation, and is expected to be developed further.

The Department of Water and Environment is promoting an approach of ‘systematically improving waste management’, following failure of various national, provincial and municipal measures to prevent hazardous and medical waste dumping.

Among the decades old regulatory failures are provincial health care waste treatment and disposal policies, business monopolisation and disinvestment in hazardous waste removal, transport, treatment and disposal services, and Johannesburg metro’s defunct Waste Hub fees office.

Among the operators implicated in dumping was Phambili Wasteman or a sub contractor, its executive team including the former president of the Institute of Waste Management of SA, IWMSA, Vincent Charnley. The operator or its sub contractors dumped medical waste in unused mine shafts and shallow brick quarry trenches in 2009.

Earlier health care waste contract horrors involved storage in suburban houses and warehouses, awaiting either disposal at over-stressed and substandard incinerators, or dumping at illegal sites, including some ‘temporarily licensed emergency’ landfill sites.

Attempts to increase the reuse and recycling of materials and resources like metals, glass, paper and plastics, are stalled at current low levels due to most municipal services running on a ‘one compactor truck, one route to landfill’ system.

Waste disposal to landfill and remediation of contaminated land, currently ruled by disparate pieces of legislation and authorities, may become more harmonised in the new Waste Strategy and Waste Regulations.

Waste Regulations comment

Martin Ginster of Sasol said waste avoidance and minimisation were as important as disposal in protecting human health and environment. Waste management should focus on “prevention by a systematic and hierarchical approach to integrated waste management, including cleaner production techniques, effective and sensible reuse and recycling, and responsible treatment and disposal.”

Ginster believes this approach would assist in diverting resources away from landfill.

Waste streams would be classified as hazardous or general, and generators would have to consider suitable management options, being either reuse, recycling, recovery, treatment, or disposal.

Disposal to landfill would involve landfill acceptance criteria, to be detailed in the Waste Strategy, Waste Regulations, and relevant new standards.

On the revised Waste Classification and Management System (WCMS), Hanré Crous of EScience Associates said a comprehensive national system for classifying and categorising waste was envisaged to enable the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) to determine the success of the strategy in moving resources up from landfill to reuse, recycling and recovery.

Haz, GHS, SANS 10234

The draft waste classification system incorporated classes, categories, appropriate management, and reporting. It was proposed that hazardous waste should be classified in accordance with the Globally Harmonised System (GHS) of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals, as referenced in SANS 10234, and assigned one or more hazard classes, to determine management and disposal options.

The new classification system, WCMS, would be formalised into the Waste Regulations. Industrial sectors are expected to develop guidelines in response to the Waste Regulations.

Remediation framework

Dr Jonathan McStay of WSP Environmental said a draft framework had been developed in terms of the remediation of contaminated land. The framework provides a protocol for site risk assessment, norms and standards for site assessment reporting, and derivation and use of preliminary soil screening values.

Waste facilities licences

Marius van Zyl of Jones and Wagener Consulting Civil Engineers said practical aspects of the licensing of waste management facilities would be ruled by section 19(3) of the Waste Act.

Waste storage standards

Sanet Jacobs of Omnia said practical implementation of waste holders and waste generators responsibilities would be ruled by the WCMS, a Best Practice Technical Guideline, and additional norms and standards for storage and handling of waste.

Chemicals waste response

Commentators to the legislator and the standards generator, include the Chemicals and Allied Industries‘ Association (CAIA), who hosted Responsible Care workshops in Johannesburg and Durban in June 2010.

CAIA Responsible Care manager, Louise Lindeque, warned that the Waste Regulations were likely to extend producer responsibility and set stringent criteria for implementation of the waste hierarchy, to encourage cleaner production and resource efficiency.

PHOTO; DEA deputy minister Rejoice Mabudafhasi, who heads SA waste management strategies.

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