South Africa is devoted to sustainable development with a commitment to balance the broader social and economic challenges of an unequal and developing society while protecting environmental resources. This includes the care of waste materials in South Africa as well as the use of raw materials, resource efficiency, product design, waste minimization and prevention where avoidance is impossible (DEA, 2012:278).
South Africa’s core legislation on waste licensing is governed by the National Environmental Management Waste Act, 2008 (Act No. 59 of 2008), which came into force on 1 July 2009. The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Regulations read with the list of waste management activities are required as part of the application process which are likely to have a harmful result on the environment (GN 921 of 29 November 2013). An integrated environmental authorization process has been established according to NEMA and NEMWA which means that if both NEMA listed activities and NEMWA waste management activities are triggered, an integrated EIA process must be followed.
The Waste Management Hierarchy aims to achieve ideal environmental outcomes and is an international and national credited guide to prioritizing waste management policies. It lists priorities of the most preferred to least preferred waste management option. South Africa is informed of waste management through the waste management hierarchy which is the objective of NEMWA (DEA, 2011: 6).
The purpose of licensing is to ensure that identified waste management activities (as currently listed 47) that may adversely affect the environment are regulated by specific conditions in order to protect the environment.
NEMWA obligates that the notice listing the waste management activities must specify if a waste management licence is compulsory for the specific activity or, if not, the requirements or standards that oversee the activity apply. Listed waste management activities that are excused from licensing requirements must conform to the standard which has been set. In addition, they must report regularly and register with the South African Waste Information System (SAWIS).
The WML process
The licensing requirement is relevant to a variety of listed waste management activities including recycling, the storage of waste; treatment of waste; recovery, disposal of waste; and the construction or closure of associated infrastructure and facilities. The list contains Category A and B activities, which are distinguished by the threshold and regulates the environmental assessment procedure.
If the authorisation applied for is with reference to an activity listed in Category A, a Basic Assessment Process must be completed to obtain Environmental Authorisation for the activity. A Basic Assessment is applicable where the environmental impact is defined in scope and well understood. If the authorisation applied for is with reference to an activity listed in Category B, a Scoping and EIA Process must be completed. A full EIA is applicable where the duration of environmental impacts and potential scope is not well recognised, or is presumed to be significant.
Waste management license applications are included in the National Environmental Authorization System (NEAS).
An Independent Environmental Assessment Practitioner (EAP) must be appointed to oversee all WML applications. The practitioner’s independence will be determined through an official disclosure of interests by the person in the waste management license application form.
The Minister is the licensing authority for international obligations, hazardous waste, activity that occurs in more than one authority or an activity executed by a statutory body or a provincial environmental authority. Hazardous waste is handled nationally, where general waste is operated provincially. The compliance with licenses will be monitored by national Environmental Management Inspectors (EMIs) for which the minister is the licensing authority.
The Member of Executive Council (MEC) is the waste licensing authority. The Minister is entitled to assign licensing authorities for a specific waste management activity of which the MEC is the licensing authority. The compliance with licenses will be monitored by provincial EMIs for which the MEC is the licensing authority.
DEA’s general objective is to accelerate and simplify the licensing process and encourage the integration and streamlining of multiple licensing systems for activities that require environmental authorisation under NEMA and other sectoral laws.
Registered EAPs from Environmental Assurance (Pty) Ltd. (ENVASS) create comprehensive proposals for WML process. Please do not hesitate to contact Environmental Assurance (Pty) Ltd. (ENVASS) at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 012 460 9768 if you require any assistance.