In light of the risks associated with improper waste management practices, waste is governed by several pieces of legislation for the purpose of protecting human health, preventing pollution and ecological degradation as well as to secure ecological sustainable development.
The National Environmental Management: Waste Act, 2008 (Act No. 59 of 2008) defines the term “waste” as:
(a) “any substance, material, or object, that is unwanted, rejected, abandoned or disposed of, or is intended or required to be discarded or disposed of, by the holder of that substance, material or object, whether or not such substance, material or object can be re-used, recycled or recovered and includes all waste as defined in Schedule 3 to this Act; or
(b) any other substance, material or object that is not included in Schedule 3 that may be defined as a waste by the Minister by notice in the Gazette”.
The general public tends to believe that only items discarded after their primary use are considered waste. As a result, organic material discarded for composting, is often overlooked as “waste” due to it being utilised to create fertilizer for agricultural or landscaping purposes.
What is organic waste? The Norms and Standards published in Notice No. 561 in Government Gazette No. 44762 of 25 June 2021 define organic waste as:
“Waste of a biological original which can be broken down, in a reasonable amount of time, into its base compounds by micro-organisms and other living things”.
The Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment (DFFE) published the National Norms and Standards in June 2021 to provide a national uniform approach relating to controlling the composting of organic waste at a facility that falls within the threshold to prevent or minimise potential negative impacts on the bio-physical and socio-economic environment. In addition, these Norms and Standards are aimed at ensuring the implementation of measures for composting organic waste that provides the most benefit or causes the least damage to the environment, is feasible to implement by the general society in both the short and long term.
The following are two important points to consider when taking the first step in ensuring compliance with the new composting regulations:
The following list summarises some of the key actions in terms of the Norms and Standards for organic waste composting, 2020 required to be taken by the operator or owner of the composting facility. These actions are applicable to all facilities that have the capacity to process compostable waste more than 10 tonnes per day:
Should your operations produce compostable organic waste, ENVASS as a multi-disciplinary service provider can assist in ensuring organic waste management compliance. Our team of specialists are qualified to undertake auditing and monitoring services as well as compiling Environmental Management Programmes.
If you require a solution-driven proposal, please do not hesitate to contact our highly qualified specialists at ENVASS on 012 460 9768 or email@example.com
National Environmental Management: Waste Act, 2008, as amended.
Norms and Standards for organic waste composting, 2020. Government Gazette. (No.44762).