3 Instruments for implementing the strategy

The following section describes the main regulatory, economic and fiscal instruments that will be used to give effect to the overall strategy outlined in Section 2 above. While many of these instruments have already been mentioned in Section 2, this Section aims to provide further detail regarding their implementation, and consolidate actions relating to each instrument that arise from different components of the waste hierarchy.

3.1 Norms and standards

National norms and standards provide the foundation of the regulatory system. The Waste Act allows for an integrated system of norms and standards across the three spheres of government. Certain norms and standards at a national level are mandatory, while others are discretionary. In addition, provinces may set norms and standards that are not in conflict with national norms and standards. Municipalities may also set local waste service standards. The system of norms and standards will be developed in a sequenced manner, with the immediate focus being on the development of mandatory standards, which include:

  • The classification of waste.
  • Planning and delivery of waste management services.
  • The storage, treatment and disposal of waste (including the planning and operation of waste treatment and waste disposal facilities). 

In relation to the classification of waste, the Waste Classification and Management System will be in effect as of September 2010.  The system will identify norms and standards for the appropriate storage, handling and disposal for different waste management activities and acceptable use types, and will dynamically evolve to incorporate norms and standards as they develop. This system is described in more detail in Section 3.2.

The provision of waste management services has been addressed by two sets of standards. The first set of standards provides for the delivery of free basic waste services and the level of service that will be provided. The second set of standards revolve around the collection of waste, and includes recommendations for separation of waste at source, measures to promote recycling, and prescriptions in terms of the frequency of collection.

In terms of the discretionary national norms and standards, the development of technical standards for the remediation of contaminated land and soil quality has been identified as a priority and the standards will be published for comment by April 2010. 

Other discretionary norms and standards will be identified and developed using the following criteria:

  • The contribution to achievement of the waste hierarchy.
  • The extent of the environmental impact.
  • The impact on availability of landfill space.
  • The relationship to other priority sectors (such as waste-to-energy and its contribution to the climate change mitigation strategy).
  • The existence of proactive industries which have established and adhere to additional operating standards.
  • The existence of standard operating procedures which may be converted into standards for particular sectors or companies with multiple sites.
  • Elements of the waste transportation sector that have not been properly regulated. 

To prevent a proliferation of norms and standards, discretionary provisions for provincial and local government norms and standards should only be invoked where national implementation is unable to effectively address provincial or local waste management issues due to regional variation. Instances where possible regional variation might be required should be identified and discussed in the appropriate inter-governmental forums.

3.1.1 Norms and standards in relation to listed waste management activities

Section 19(3)(a) of the Act specifies that listed waste management activities must either be licensed or subject to requirements or standards for conducting that activity. This mechanism of specifying standards that must be adhered to for particular activities is an alternative to licensing that allows for a level of regulation without incurring the administrative burden associated with licensing.

The exempted activities will be subject to the standards that are set out in the notice listing the activities. In certain instances, acceptable use will be governed by existing Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) serving as a standard and in other instances, standards may need to be developed. These standards will be developed through the dti’s technical infrastructure for setting standards and accrediting compliance with those standards, as described below.

Where an applicable standard has been set utilising the dti technical infrastructure, listed waste management activities which are exempted from licensing requirements will be required to submit a certificate of compliance with these standards, issued by SANAS. In addition, they will be required to register with and regularly report to the SAWIS.

3.1.2 Mechanisms for the development of norms and standards

The established standard setting procedures of the South African Technical Infrastructure (SATI) will be used to develop complex technical standards which require extensive engagement with industry and stakeholders. While the SABS standards are voluntary standards, the Waste Act empowers the Minister to make such standards mandatory. Standards are developed via a consensual process making use of multi-stakeholder committees, involving those responsible for achieving them in the development of their content. In instances where consensus on the standards is not achieved within a realistic timeframe, DEA will exercise its prerogative to promulgate the standards based on its own technical assessment.

In order to achieve the best results from the use of the SATI infrastructure, DEA will prepare a technical report in order to initiate the setting of a standard. The technical report will outline the objectives to be achieved through the standard, and the manner in which it will be enforced. The report will also survey international best practice, and where possible make recommendations regarding the appropriate standards which should be considered.

Standards to be set in relation to product design in support of the Extended Producer Responsibility measures will be agreed upon between DEA and the dti prior to the dti initiating the process with SABS.

Standards can take approximately one to two years to develop and set. They are informed by international best practice, and developed within the standards development protocol as overseen by the National Regulator for Compulsory Standards.

Once a standard has been developed through SATI, it will be promulgated in terms of regulations issued under the Waste Act. Where required, additional regulatory provisions will be developed to support the promulgated standards.

Certification of compliance with the developed standards will be undertaken by agents accredited by the SANAS. SABS will use globally standardised measurements which are provided by the metrology unit on request. Whilst SANAS will not offer training to private agencies, it will provide accreditation training for their assessors.

A memorandum of understanding will be signed between the Department and the SABS, setting out the basis on which the Department can drive the development of certain technical standards through the SATI mechanisms. In certain instances where the standards to be developed are of a non-technical nature, around which there is already clear consensus, or where the SATI process is deemed inappropriate for the development of a particular standard, the Department will elect to follow its own internal procedures for standard setting.

3.2 Categorisation and classification

A comprehensive national system for classifying and categorising waste is required to ensure that common definitions of particular wastes are used in different information systems, and that there is a common understanding of the associated requirements and procedures for different wastes. Importantly, the categorisation system for waste will lay the basis for reporting on waste to the South African Waste Information System (SAWIS) and related systems. In terms of Section 7(1 ) of the Waste Act:

“7. (1) The Minister must, by notice in the Gazette, set national norms and standards for the … classification of waste;”

The classification of waste will be addressed through the Waste Classification and Management System (WCMS) which is being developed by DEA. The WCMS will be formalised into regulations in terms of the Waste Act.

The WCMS distinguishes between Classification and Categorisation of Waste in the following terms:

  • Waste Classification is the process by which waste is assigned to one or more hazard classes based on its properties, characteristics, and components.
  • Waste Categorisation defines waste in terms of a list of categories and sub-categories which is used to determine procedures for classification and is used for the purposes of monitoring and reporting.

The Classification system used for waste will be aligned with the Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS), described in SANS 10234.

1. Physical Hazards 2. Health Hazards
Table 6: Hazard Classes of the SANS 10234 Classification System
Flammable gases
Flammable aerosols
Oxidizing gases
Gases under pressure
Flammable liquids
Flammable solids
Self-reactive substances and mixtures
Pyrophoric substances
Self-heating substances and mixtures
Substances and mixtures that, on contact with water, emit flammable gases
Oxidizing substances and mixtures
Organic peroxides
Corrosive to metals
Acute toxicity
Skin corrosion and skin irritation
Serious eye damage and eye irritation
Respiratory sensitization and skin sensitization
Germ cell mutagenicity
Reproductive toxicity
Specific target organ toxicity – single exposure
Specific target organ toxicity – repeated exposure
Aspiration hazards
3. Hazards to the Aquatic Environment
Acute aquatic toxicity
Chronic aquatic toxicity

The following wastes do not need to go through the classification process and are considered pre-classified wastes:

  • health care risk waste (HCRW);
  • asbestos waste;
  • waste tyres;
  • electronic waste (eWaste);
  • waste batteries;
  • putrescible waste;
  • municipal waste (including household hazardous waste); and
  • inert waste.

The WCMS will include a waste categorisation system, which will be used in the SAWIS for the purposes of reporting on waste management activities. It is envisaged that waste will be grouped under primary categories based on the major types of waste. The current proposed primary categories are provided below for the purposes of illustration.

Waste Categories
Table 7: Proposed Primary Categories for waste categorisation
Gaseous waste (CFCs, Nitrogen, HCl-pressure bottles)
Oxidizing waste (organic peroxides, strong oxidising compounds)
Reactive waste (react with water to generate flammable or acidic gasses)
Mercury waste, or mercury-containing waste (batteries, fluorescent lamps, thermometers)
‘Various’ waste (low volumes, e.g. small packaging, aerosol cans, medicine, iso-cyanates)
POPs Waste
Inorganic chemical waste (acids, sodium hydroxide, metal salts)
Waste Oils
Shredder waste
Tarry Waste
Halogenated solvents and compounds with sulphur
Halogenated organic solids
Solvents without halogens and sulphur
Other organic hazardous waste
Fly Ash & Bagfilter dust
Bottom ash
Foundry sand
Mineral waste (refractory waste)
Reprocessed mining waste
Polluted soil
Health care risk waste
WEEE: Waste of Electric and Electronic Equipment
End-of-life vehicles

Once a waste has been classified as hazardous or general waste, the generator then needs to consider the management options that apply to that waste. These will determine whether the waste is suitable for reuse, recycling, recovery, treatment or whether it must be disposed of. Before disposing of waste the generator will need to consider landfill acceptance criteria. If the waste does not meet these criteria, the generator will need to consider other waste management options. When sending waste for the appropriate identified waste management option, the waste generator will be required to complete a waste manifest document so that the waste can be tracked from the generator to the waste management facility and back.

DEA are developing a standard leach test that must be applied to any waste that has a land application e.g. in road building or agriculture. Leachate characteristics are crucial to determining appropriate management measures and defining acceptable use in these cases. These will be formalised through the South African Technical Infrastructure.

In general, waste management measures must give effect to the waste hierarchy and promote diversion from landfill. To this end, the WCMS will be accompanied by a ‘Best Practice Technology Guideline’ to serve as a reference for waste generators and managers. This guideline will be supplemented by the additional norms and standards for the storage and handling of waste that are to be developed in terms of the Waste Act.

The application of norms and standards through the Waste Management and Classification System is schematically described in Figure 6 on the following page.

To promote the diversion of waste from landfill and reduce licensing burdens, the WCMS will include provisions for identifying waste streams to which general exemptions from licensing requirements would apply for specific waste activities across the entire value chain of the waste hierarchy, defined as “Acceptable Uses”. Acceptable use activities will be accompanied by the establishment of specific norms and standards for the specified waste activity, or, in the case of listed activities, specified requirements and standards that must be met as an alternative to licensing.

Figure 6: Application of norms and standards through the Waste Management and Categorisation System



3.3 Waste Information System

Section 60 of the Waste Act obliges the Minister to establish a national waste information system for recording, collection, management and analysis of waste data and information. The South African Waste Information System (SAWIS) plays a vital role in the management of waste and implementation of the NWMS by addressing the lack of reliable data on the waste sector.

SAWIS will provide a mechanism for obtaining accurate waste balance information through online submission of data by waste facilities, municipal waste service providers and the private sector, as well as vertical integration of information systems between national and provincial Waste Information Systems (WISs), and horizontal integration with other waste regulation and information systems.

SAWIS will provide information that can be used to inform the planning and development of Integrated Waste Management Plans and Industry Waste Management Plans, and to evaluate their implementation. The information in SAWIS must inform public health and safety management, and assist in the assessment of the impact of waste on health and the environment. It must also provide information on waste to educators and researchers for the purposes of raising public awareness and information.

While the process of establishing SAWIS was initiated as part of the 1999 NWMS, the new Waste Act provides a legislative framework for SAWIS, including compulsory reporting to SAWIS. Chapter 6 of the Waste Act establishes the following requirements of the national waste information system:

  • It must record waste volumes not only on the generation of waste, but at every point in the hierarchy of waste management measures and quantify data in terms of the categories established in the National Waste Classification System.
  • It must provide a register of licenses granted for S19 listed activities that includes the license holder, the location, and the activity.

The Act specifies that the Waste Information System can include any information required for the effective administration of the Waste Act, but specifically mentions that SAWIS may be used to record:

  • Levels of waste management services provided by municipalities.
  • Information on compliance with the Act.

While Section 62 of the Act provides for the optional creation of provincial waste information systems, in practice these present significant integration problems and risk fragmenting waste data. Furthermore, they will defeat the desirable objective of creating a nationally unified framework of reporting requirements for business and local government authorities. For this reason, the establishment of new provincial waste information systems is not recommended.

Where provincial waste information systems already exist, or are already planned, they should include all the information required by the national system. To avoid the need for multiple reporting, the Minister may exempt entities reporting to a provincial system from requirements to report to the national system once mechanisms have been established for replicating the information to the national system. In the long run, it is desirable that existing provincial and national systems are integrated into a single information system.

The Minister and MECs have broad powers to require any person to report to the SAWIS or provincial systems any information that is reasonably required for the purposes of the waste information system. The requirement to report to SAWIS will also form part of the licensing conditions for listed activities, and for listed activities that do not require licenses and are subject to norms and standards. Where information is required on activities or facilities that do not fall into these categories, Section 63 of the Waste Act will be used to provide notice to the relevant person or organ of state of requirements to report to SAWIS.

SAWIS is to be implemented within a new technology framework for information systems that DEA will pilot in early 2010. An overview of the new system is provided in Section 5 of the strategy. Horizontal integration of SAWIS with other waste regulation and information systems is required for licensing procedures (currently captured on the National Environmental Authorisation System (NEAS)). This will be facilitated by the new framework, which is focused on integrating business procedures on the back of a single underlying data base, to which the current implementation of SAWIS will be transferred.

An integrated procedure for licensing and registration on SAWIS is desirable, but does not exempt licensees from separately registering with SAWIS.  It is also important to note that facilities that fail to meet licensing requirements or are granted exemptions from licensing requirements will still be required to register with SAWIS.

As a key element of such integration, a standard categorisation system is required for waste information submitted to SAWIS and which is aligned with reporting requirements stipulated in licensing. The categorisation system currently used by SAWIS is rudimentary, and an interim measure. SAWIS will use the categorisation system developed as part of the Waste Classification and Management System (WCMS).

The current focus of SAWIS is on end-of-pipe waste data i.e. data from facilities dealing with waste disposal, recycling, recovery, and import and export of waste. While an incremental approach to implementation of SAWIS will be continued, the existing implementation plan for SAWIS will be revised to take into account functionality that will be exposed by the new architecture for information systems.

The National Waste Management Officer will play the role of the Waste Information Authority as required by the Waste Act.

Access by the public and industry to information stored on SAWIS is considered vital and is the quid pro quo for industry submitting information onto the database. It is also a statutory requirement in terms of the Waste Act. However, safeguards will be put in place to ensure that while companies have access to their own information, and aggregated information for their industrial sector, proprietary company information is not exposed to third parties.

3.4 Industry Waste Management Plans

Industry Waste Management Plans (IndWMPs) are the main co-regulatory instrument within the waste management system. They describe the waste related issues within an industry, and specify how the industry will address these issues, giving specific actions, targets and timeframes.

Part 7 of the Waste Act, section 28 to section 34, sets out the requirements for IndWMPs, which may be prepared on a mandatory or voluntary basis. The Minister may request an IndWMP for waste generating activities that affect more than one province or which occur in more than one province. The provincial MEC may request an IndWMP for waste generating activities within the province, provided that such a plan has not already been requested by the Minister. Industry may also prepare and submit plans on a voluntary basis. Each of these mechanisms will be described in more detail below.

3.4.1 Mandatory IndWMPs

An IndWMP may be required where any activity results in the generation of waste. Section 28(1) to (6) of the Waste Act sets out the process the Minister or MEC must follow to require an IndWMP, including consultation with the affected person, category of persons or industry. When requesting an IndWMP, the Minister or MEC must consider the factors listed in section 28(4), which are, in summary:

  • The actual and potential environmental and health impacts of the waste being generated.
  • The consumption of sensitive natural resources in the production process.
  • The potential for the IndWMP to mitigate these impacts, whilst achieving waste avoidance and minimization.

When a mandatory plan is requested, the Minister or MEC identifies the required parameters of the plan, specifying the content, as well as who should prepare the plan.

3.4.2 Voluntary IndWMPs

Section 28(7) of the Waste Act sets out the process whereby a person, category of persons, or industry whose activities result in the generation of waste may elect to produce an IndWMP voluntarily. As with mandatory plans, consideration of the factors listed in section 28(4) is required, and the Minister or MEC to whom the plan is submitted can exercise any of their powers with respect to Mandatory IndWMPs. This section of the Act has not yet been brought into effect, pending the preparation of guidelines for voluntary plans.

Through the process of developing a voluntary IndWMP, the affected person or industry is able to set out the measures they will undertake to address waste management challenges. In approving the plan, government agrees to work within the parameters of the plan, and only intervene if the plan is not being adhered to or is failing to meet its targets. The IndWMP gives industry the opportunity to set out the additional norms and standards it will meet for various waste management activities, and how it will adhere to these.

3.4.3 Persons appointed to produce IndWMPs

The Minister or MEC may give directions for an IndWMP to be prepared by a person, category of person or an industry that generates waste. However, on occasion the Minister or MEC may give directions for an IndWMP to be prepared by an independent person for the cost of the persons or industry responsible for the waste generating activities. In general this measure will not apply to well organised industries that respond to a request for the preparation of an IndWMP. This measure will only be invoked in instances where:

  • There is no representative body or structure capable of preparing an IndWMP.
  • The fragmented nature of the industry precludes the industry from agreeing on a suitable person to prepare the plan.
  • The industry is comprised largely of SMMEs without a representative structure capable of preparing the IndWMP.
  • An initial request to the responsible party is not satisfactorily met.

Section 33(1) of the Act states that in the event that an IndWMP or its revision is rejected more than once, or if a person required to produce a plan fails to do so, the Minister or MEC may, by notice in writing and without any criminal proceedings being affected, specify the waste management measures that must be taken, ensuring that the person is not unduly advantaged by the failure to submit an approved plan.

3.4.4 Organs of state appointed to produce IndWMPs

The Minister may require that an organ of state, excluding a municipality, prepare an IndWMP, and similarly, the MEC may request that the provincial department responsible for environmental affairs prepare an IndWMP. The cost of this will then be recovered from the person, category of persons or industry responsible for producing the waste. When requesting that an organ of state or provincial department prepare an IndWMP, a timeframe for doing so must be stipulated. This measure will be invoked in instances where:

  • The nature of an industry makes it impractical for a party other than an organ of state to produce an IndWMP.
  • The industry is largely dominated by state owned entities.
  • The industry relates to defence of the state or deals with information that is deemed sensitive to the security of the state.
  • The knowledge of the affected party regarding reduction, re-use, recycling and recovery is deemed to be limited.
  • The party is comprised of SMMEs, and consensus cannot be reached on a suitable person to prepare the plan.
  • The party originally requested to prepare the plan has failed to do so.

3.4.5 Contents of IndWMPs and Guidelines

Section 30(2) of the Waste Act indicates the information that the Minister or MEC may specify in requesting an IndWMP. Each IndWMP request will contain a set of specific requirements for the plan, within the remit of the Act.

A guideline will be made available regarding the process to draw up both mandatory and voluntary IndWMPs, and the content of such plans. The guidelines will describe in detail the contents and parameters for producing IndWMPs.

3.4.6 Types of plans

Four types of IndWMPs will be produced. These plans may be either produced mandatorily as a result of the Minister or MEC requesting them, or voluntarily by industry, an organisation or a group of organisations.

Waste Stream IndWMP – This type of plan will typically apply to a group of ‘waste owners’ who manage the product which results in the waste, such as producers or importers within a particular waste stream. Typically an industry association will be mandated or a section 21 company established to produce the IndWMP and manage the activities related to it. Funds for managing the operations contained within this type of plan will usually be raised via a levy. Industry agreements will be utilized to ensure that individual operators within the waste stream operate in accordance with the IndWMP. Examples of waste streams which would be considered for this type of plan include batteries, tyres and waste electric and electronic equipment (WEEE). Benefits of producing this type of plan include achieving international best practice and facilitating regulatory support from government.

Sector IndWMP – Sector plans will apply when there are multiple operators undertaking very similar activities and producing similar types of waste within a particular sector. A sector representative body will often be formed to undertake the production of the plan and management of activities related to it. The sector IndWMP may stipulate that individual organisations within the sector over a particular threshold will be required to produce company level plans which must be submitted to the sector body responsible for the sector plan. Company level plans required in terms of this arrangement would not be submitted to the Minister or MEC. Examples of sectors for which sector IndWMPs may be required are drum collectors, car wreakers, dry cleaners and photographic developers. Benefits of producing this type of plan would include approval of standard operating procedures, and partial compliance towards licensing applications where multiple licensing applications will be required.

Company IndWMP – Company level plans will be required whereby an individual company does not fit within a sector plan, but has waste management related activities for which it needs permits or approved standard operating procedures. A company level plan may be required in terms of a sector level plan, in which case it should be submitted to the sector body, or it may be required by the Minister or MEC, in which case it should be submitted for approval. Company level plans should identify company waste objectives, targets and standard operating procedures. Typically the Minister or MEC will require company level plans from large companies, especially those that have multiple sites which have standard operating procedures. Company level plans can result in some licensing requirements being replaced with an approved standard operating procedure, and they will support permit applications, especially where a company may have multiple permit applications.

Site IndWMP – Site plans will be developed by an operational branch or organization within a larger company. Site level plans are intended to support the application of a standard operating procedure which is specific to that site. These plans may be voluntary or mandatory, and will usually be requested by and submitted to the MEC. The plan will detail how the site manages waste, and it will set out targets for achieving the waste hierarchy, particularly in terms of waste reduction and recycling. Examples of this type of plan include individual power station sites of electricity producers. Benefits of this type of plan include the support for permit applications, particularly where a site may have multiple permit applications.  Site plans may be prepared independently of a company level IndWMP.

The diagram describes how and when these are to be prepared and reported on.

IndWMPs must be produced in a consultative manner in line with the directions given by the Minister or MEC, and the contents of a proposed IndWMP must be brought to the attention of relevant organs of state, interested persons and the public. Any comments submitted in respect of the IndWMP must be considered, and a copy of all comments received, submitted with the proposed plan to the Minister or MEC. This applies to the preparation of all plans, including when the plan is prepared by an appointed person or an organ of state.

On receipt of the plan the Minister or MEC may approve the plan in writing, with amendments, condition or directions; or require additional informal and a revised plan; or require amendments; or reject the plans with reasons as per section 32 of the Waste Act. If additional requirements are not met within the stipulated timeframes, it constitutes a failure to submit an IndWMP. On receipt of the additional information or the revised plan, the Minister or MEC must reconsider the plan, if it is the first resubmission.

An approval must stipulate the period for which the approval applies and notice of preparation of the plan and its approval must be published in the gazette. An approved plan prepared by an organ of state or provincial department must be published in the relevant gazette with an indication of how and when the plan will be implemented.

Figure 7: Process to be followed for Industry Waste Management Plans
Figure 7: Process to be followed for Industry Waste Management Plans

Should the submission of a plan, its revision or amendment, be rejected, or fail to be submitted, the Minister or MEC may, in writing, specify the waste management measures that must be taken by the appropriate person to ensure no undue advantage is gained by the failure to submit. Where possible, measures should be aligned with other IndWMPs dealing with industrial or waste management activities that are related to the subject of the rejected or non-submitted plan.

IndWMPs must be reviewed at intervals specified in the written approval or gazette. When specifying review periods, the review periods applicable to waste management licenses must be taken into account.

3.4.7 Current and future IndWMPs

An initial set of IndWMPs are being prepared by the following industries in consultation with DEA:

  • Tyres industry to manage waste tyres.
  • Paper and Packaging industry to manage packaging and paper waste.
  • Lighting industry manufacturing mercury containing lamps e.g. CFLs.
  • Pesticide Industry to manage residual pesticides and pesticide containers.

It is envisaged that these plans will be completed and approved by the end of 2010.

Over the course of the next five years, it is envisaged that IndWMPs will be required at sector level from the following industries:

Waste stream Specific considerations Timeframe
Table 8: Programme for development of Industry Waste Management Plans
eWaste There are seven types of recognised eWaste, lighting waste is already subject to an IndWMP, and therefore the other six types of eWaste should be considered and prioritized. Separate IndWMPs may be required. Plans to be prepared within 2 years
Batteries There are seven types of batteries and each type should be considered within the plan.     Plan to be prepared within 2 years
Mining waste   Plan to be prepared within 3 years

Once the sector level plans have been approved for the above industries, company level plans will be required to be submitted to give effect to the provisions of the sector plan within one year of the approval of the relevant sector level plan.

3.5 Listing and Licensing of waste management activities

In addition to standards which may be set for waste management activities, the process of listing and licensing of waste management activities is the primary means by which these activities are regulated.  Listing of waste management activities, which is the first step in the process, establishes either a particular licensing regime for that activity, or a set of standards that need to be adhered to when engaging in the activity in the event that the activity is regarded as an acceptable use.

3.5.1 Listing of waste management activities

The Waste Act includes a detailed list of waste management activities in Schedule 1 of the Act. As provided by section 19 of the Act, this list has been subsequently updated. The list of waste activities which was gazetted on 3 July 2009 differs from the existing descriptions in the Act in that it specifies activities involving quantities and types of waste with respect to which licensing measures apply. This list will continue to be updated as the waste classification system is put into effect (refer to Section 3.1 on the categorisation and classification of waste types and activities).

Schedule 1 of the Waste Act and the notice on 3 July 2009 established two categories of waste management activities, both of which require licensing:

Category A: These activities require a basic assessment process as defined in environmental impact assessment (EIA) regulations provided in NEMA to be completed in order to obtain a license for the activity. A basic assessment process is appropriate where the environmental impact of a particular activity is well understood and limited in scope.

Category B: As a licensing requirement, these activities require a full assessment report in terms of the EIA regulations. A full assessment process is appropriate where the potential scope and extent of environmental impacts is not well understood, or is likely to be significant.

In terms of the notice, category A activities fall below set thresholds for health and environmental safety, and include:

  • Storage of general waste and tyres, and temporary storage of hazardous waste.
  • Reuse, recovery and recycling of general waste.
  • Treatment of general waste and certain minimum and maximum quantities of effluent, flaring or burning of biogas and natural gas.
  • Disposal of non-hazardous waste.
  • Storage and treatment of animal waste.
  • Construction or decommissioning of facilities and infrastructure for Category A waste management activities.

3.5.1(6)Category B activities, while covering the same types of activities, include hazardous waste, and exceed thresholds or quantities of waste set for Category A requirements. All incineration of waste falls under this category.

The Waste Act requires that the notice listing the waste management activities must indicate whether a waste management licence is required for that activity, or the standards that must be adhered to when conducting the activity. The latter provision provides for a third category of waste management activity, which does not require a license but which must conform to particular standards.  The determination of those activities will be guided by the application of the following criteria, which will be refined through the finalisation of Waste Classification Management System, shown in Table 9.

Criteria for listed activities which do not require license Criteria for listed activities which do require a license
Table 9: Criteria for waste management activities
Environmental risk easily assessed and is insignificant, trivial or low Medium, high risk
Risk easily mitigated by simple general rules and does not require an EIA Risk mitigated by complex rules/conditions
Either can be carried out anywhere or restrictions on locations can be easily defined Have site specific considerations that require assessment
Regulator does not need to carry out risk assessment/screening required Regulator needs to carry out risk assessment/screening
Waste types well characterised and consistent Waste types not well characterised and/or inconsistent
In the public interest to take a low regulatory approach In the public interest to regulate via a permit
Certainty of outcome Risk of abuse
Operator competence either not needed or easily accredited Operator competence needed
Unlikely to need regular inspection/other compliance assessment Needs regular inspection/other compliance assessment
Recordkeeping unlikely to be needed Recordkeeping needed for regulatory and other waste management purposes
Cessation of operations unlikely to need assessment Cessation of operations likely to need assessment

In general, listed activities which do not require a license are likely to apply to situations in which the types of wastes involved are low-risk activities that are consistent and well-understood, and it is in the public interest to avoid the administrative burden of licensing. However, persons undertaking such activities should adhere to particular standards and will be required to register on the Waste Information System (WIS).

The mechanism for setting standards for those activities that do not require licensing is described in Section 3.2.

3.5.2 Licensing of activities

The Waste Act provides a licensing regime specific to waste management activities that replaces the current system of permits issued in terms of the now repealed ECA and the environmental authorisation promulgated under the EIA regulations.  Nevertheless, the requirements for basic and full environmental impact assessments in terms of licensing applications are equivalent to the EIA regulations’ requirements, and will be captured in the National Environmental Authorisation System (NEAS), which is used for EIAs.

A graphical overview of the process by which a decision is made to authorise or deny a license application or an application for exemption from a license is described in the diagram below.

Figure 8: Licensing Process

Figure 8: Licensing Process

The first step in the licensing procedure is to determine whether the activity in question requires a licence as it may be classified as an acceptable use subject to the outcome of an assessment, which is a simplified EIA.  If it is not classified as an acceptable use, category A listed activities require a Basic Assessment procedure, while category B activities require a full EIA.

The Waste Act provides for the Minister to optionally require a license application to be managed by “an independent and suitably qualified person”. As a minimum requirement, all license applications requiring a full assessment procedure, namely Category B activities, should be managed by an independent, certified Environmental Assessment Practitioner – with the independence of the practitioner established through a formal disclosure of interests by that person (this is already a procedural requirement). Furthermore, a risk analysis will be performed by the department on all listed activities falling under Category A to determine the circumstances under which licensing applications should be managed by a certified Environmental Assessment Practitioner (EAP).

Wherever necessary, an application must be forwarded to DWA for concurrent processing in order to obtain a water use license. This will be issued as part of an integrated license providing the required environmental authorisation.

The processes in relation to a basic assessment procedure and a full assessment procedure are graphically summarised in the diagrams below.

While transitional arrangements allow existing permits granted in terms of ECA to be treated as licenses in terms of the Waste Act, a significant number of new licenses will be required to address the current listing in terms of Section 19 of the Waste Act. Delays in licensing can have negative effects on waste management capacity and serve as a brake on economic activity. DEA is introducing a new technology framework for information systems that will improve the efficiency of the licensing process by the application of a workflow engine that will automatically route licensing applications and the relevant documentation along the chain of approvals and authorisations. Furthermore, the licensee will be able to track their application online, and reporting tools will assist DEA in identifying and resolving bottlenecks in the system.

Figure 9: Basic Assessment Procedure

Figure 9: Basic Assessment Procedure

Figure 10: Full Assessment Procedure

Figure 10: Full Assessment Procedure

3.5.3 Integrated and multiple licensing

DEA’s goal is to provide integrated licensing systems for activities requiring environmental authorisation in terms of NEMA and other sectoral statutes. To this end, section 44 of the Waste Act, “Co-operative governance in waste management license applications”, explicitly provides for integrated licenses. The intention is to streamline licensing for activities that may require licensing in terms of multiple statutes, and for which different government departments may be the licensing authority.

An integrated license must stipulate the statutory provisions in terms of which it has been issued, the authorities that have issued it and to whom applications for amendments or cancellations should be addressed, and the appeal procedure that should be followed.

In practical terms, since the value of an integrated license rests in large part on an integrated license application procedure, the implication is that the NEAS system needs to be sufficiently flexible to accommodate not only licensing requirements for basic and full assessment processes in terms of NEMA, but also licensing requirements in respect to activities that may require authorisation by multiple organs of state in terms of different statutes in order to commence.

3.5.3(4)There are instances in which multiple authorisations are required from the environmental authorities located in different spheres of government. In these instances the sphere responsible for the dominant activity will take responsibility for the required authorisations.

3.6 Priority wastes

Declaration of a priority waste is one of the more interventionist measures which can be implemented in terms of the Waste Act, primarily because the consequent waste management measures can severely limit or prohibit the generation of the waste, may require detailed registration and reporting on the waste, may limit its import and export, and ultimately culminate in a waste being phased out completely. The criteria for declaring a priority waste therefore need to be considered very carefully.

3.6.1 Criteria

Declaration of a priority waste is done in terms of section 14(1) of the Waste Act. A waste may be declared a priority waste by the Minister, or the Minister on behalf of the MEC, by notice in the Gazette. There must be reasonable grounds for the Minister to believe that the waste poses a threat to health, well-being or the environment because of the quantity or composition of the waste. It must also be demonstrated that either specific waste management measures are required to address the threat, or that the imposition of specific waste management measures in respect of the waste may improve the reduction, re-use, recycling and recovery rates or reduce the health and environmental impacts of the waste.

Due to the consequences of declaration, this measure should be reserved for either hazardous waste streams where other less interventionist measures are not appropriate or have failed to control the situation, or for a specific waste stream whereby different government departments and stakeholders are involved, and problem specific solutions are required, such as for sewerage sludge or saline waste.


3.6.2 Process for declaration of a priority waste

Before a priority waste can be declared, the Minister must consult with stakeholders that may be affected by the declaration, following which the Minister may then gazette the declaration. When making the declaration, the Minister must stipulate which of the waste management measures must be undertaken, as per section 14(5) of the Waste Act. These include:

  • The preparation of an IndWMP by a category of persons whose activities generate a priority waste.
  • The prohibition of the generation of a priority waste.
  • Measures to manage, minimize, store, re-use, recycle, recover, treat or dispose of the priority waste.
  • Registering, monitoring, and reporting requirements.
  • Any other measures the Minister deems necessary.

Should a declaration be likely to have a significant impact on the national economy, the Minister must consult with the Minister of Trade and Industry and the Minister of Finance before making the declaration.

3.6.3 Consequences of declaration

The consequences of the declaration will depend on the measures that are stipulated in the notice. As indicated above, these may include preparation of an IndWMP, the prohibition of the generation of the waste, various measures relating to the management of the waste, and requirements for registering, monitoring, and reporting. In addition, unless a priority waste is handled in accordance the above measures and the relevant Industrial Waste Management Plan, it may not be imported, manufactured, processed, sold, exported, recycled, recovered, treated or disposed of.
The following diagram illustrates the process for indentifying and declaring a priority waste:

Figure 11: Process for Priority Wastes

Figure 11: Process for Priority Wastes


3.6.4 Existing and potential priority wastes

Regulations for the prohibition of asbestos have been promulgated in terms of the Environmental Conservation Act, prior to the Waste Act coming into force. These regulations effectively declare asbestos as a priority waste.  Due to the transitional arrangement in section 80(2) of the Waste Act, these regulations remain effective. Wastes to be considered for declaration as priority wastes include polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and mercury waste. PCBs are organic compounds which were widely used in transformers, capacitors and coolants. They are highly toxic, and easily penetrate the skin. Their destruction through treatment processes is difficult and often extremely hazardous. PCBs are classified as a persistent organic pollutant under the Stockholm Convention, to which South Africa has acceded as described in Section 1.4.

Mercury is a chemical element, most commonly used in scientific apparatus, CFLs and batteries. Mercury is highly toxic, and can cause severe poisoning, debilitating neurological conditions and in some instances death. Pollution of water sources by mercury causes serious ecological damage. The use of mercury is severely controlled in several countries.

3.7 Reduction, re-use, recycling, and recovery

Sections 2.3 and 2.4 of this strategy provided an overview of the waste avoidance, reduction, re-use, recycling and recovery strategies for South Africa. These sections account for the first two levels of the waste management hierarchy, and are the foundation for waste management activities. This section focuses specifically on section 17 of the Waste Act, and provides further detail in relation to reduction, re-use, recycling and recovery of waste.

Section 17(1) of the Waste Act states that unless otherwise provided for in the Act, any person who undertakes an activity involving the reduction, re-use, recycling or recovery of waste must, before undertaking that activity, ensure that it uses less natural resources and, to the extent possible, is less harmful to the environment, that the disposal of such waste.

Section 17(2) of the Waste Act states that the Minister may, after consultation with the Minister of Trade and Industry and by notice in the gazette, require any person or category of persons to provide for the reduction, re-use, recycling and recovery of products manufactured by that person. The Minister may also determine a percentage of recycled material for a product that is produced, imported or manufactured by that person.

Products for which recycled content will be considered include items which are discarded in large quantities, items which have a high impact on health and the environment, and items which can be produced from a closed loop system, i.e. could be made completely from recycled materials and would themselves be 100% recyclable. Examples include metal cans and glass bottles, items produced from certain plastics, and lubricating oil.

The National Cleaner Production Centre, established by the dti in response to the 2004 Cleaner Production Strategy, has undertaken a number of demonstration projects, which aim to investigate the viability of various cleaner production initiatives and mechanisms.

Projects to date include: waste exchange pilot programmes; the effects of extended producer responsibility models on waste reduction; and the viability of recycling cooperatives. Further research is required on these projects in order to develop tailored measures aligned to specific industries or circumstances.

Whilst cleaner production and product design fall within the areas regulated by the dti, the Waste Act provides for DEA to identify suitable products according to their contribution to the waste stream, and liaise with the dti in terms of the appropriate response. The interdepartmental committee to be established between DEA and the dti will consider specific proposals in relation to different products, and agree on the appropriate regulatory response.

3.8 Storage, collection and transportation of waste

Part 5 of the Waste Act sets out provisions for the storage, collection and transportation of waste. The general requirements for the storage of waste are that any person who stores waste must at least take steps to ensure that the containers where waste is stored are intact and not corroded and are fit for the storage of waste. Adequate measures must be taken to prevent:

  • Accidental spillage or leaking.
  • Waste from blowing away.
  • Nuisances such as foul odour; visual impact and breeding of vectors.
  • The pollution of the environment and harm to health.

DEA will issue norms and standards further regulating the storage, collection and transportation of waste. Municipalities may also make by-laws to further regulate the storage of waste in municipal areas. Compliance with the general requirements for the storage of waste will be monitored by Environmental Management Inspectors at local and provincial level.

In terms of section 22 of the Waste Act, any person who generates waste that is collected by a municipality must place the waste in a container approved, designated or provided by the municipality for that purpose and in a location approved or authorized by the municipality.  Waste that is intended to be reduced, re-used, recycled or recovered in accordance with the Waste Act need not be placed in a container provided by the municipality. However the municipality must as far as reasonably possible provide containers or receptacles for the collection of recyclable waste that are accessible to the public.   

Communal collection points should be clearly demarcated areas with appropriate receptacles where household waste can be deposited for collection by the service provider. Community awareness programmes will be required to inform the community about collection points. The receptacles should be covered so as to prevent windblown litter and be user friendly to allow even children to safely deposit waste into the receptacles. The collection points must further be easily accessible for waste collection vehicles and encourage waste separation at source.  The municipality must ensure that communal collection points are kept tidy at all times.

The Waste Act obliges municipalities to provide equitable waste collection services to all households within the jurisdiction of the municipality, but it does allow municipalities to differentiate between categories of users and geographical areas in setting service standards and levels of service. The Waste Act obliges any persons utilizing the waste service to pay the applicable charges for that service. It is the right of a municipality to limit the provision of general waste collection services if there is a failure to comply with reasonable conditions set for the provision of the services. In instances where the municipality limits the provision of services, the limitation must not pose a risk to health and the environment.

The frequency of waste collection services is an important decision for the municipality. The frequency of the service should not encourage illegal dumping or cause a nuisance in terms of odours and volumes of waste being stored.

The collection and transportation of waste must take place in accordance with section 24 and 25 of the Waste Act. The Minister or MEC may require any private transporter of waste to register with the relevant WMO at national, provincial or local level.  A number of municipalities already require registration of transporters of waste, and government will harmonise this system on a country wide basis. Appropriate thresholds for registration of transporters of waste will be set, and DEA will prepare a draft regulation to be published for consultation purposes. The following thresholds are proposed as the basis for consultation on the regulations:

  • Transport of general waste below 30 tons per day: no registration required.
  • Transport of general waste above 30 tons per day: registration with municipal WMO in place of origin and place of destination.
  • Transport of hazardous waste below 3 tons per day: registration with municipal WMO in place of origin and place of destination.
  • Transport of hazardous waste above 3 tons per day: registration with provincial WMO in place of origin and place of destination.

The Transportation of Hazardous Waste is covered by several Acts, but the most important legislation is the National Road Traffic Act 93 of 1996 and the regulations therefore in terms of Chapter 8, which cover the transportation of dangerous goods, including hazardous waste.  It is the responsibility of the waste generator to ensure that the waste is packaged, transported, treated and disposed of in terms of the legal requirements and that there is an auditable record of the steps involved in storing, collecting and transporting the waste.

The National Road and Traffic Act incorporates a number of South African National Standards (SANS) Codes of practice into law, which are relevant to the transportation of hazardous waste. The regulations, administered by the Department of Transport, and the associated SANS Codes, set out the standards for the transport of hazardous waste including but not limited to: classifications; labelling; vehicle requirements and licensing; driver training; licensing and responsibilities; loading, route planning; operator agreements; emergency response; reporting of accidents and incidents and compatibility of load.

3.9 Treatment, processing and disposal

This section describes how the strategic priorities for the disposal of waste will be implemented in terms of the regulatory framework provided by the Waste Act. Chapter 4, Part 6 of the Waste Act prohibits the unauthorised disposal of waste, and requires that where there is no household waste collection service the waste must be disposed of in the most environmentally and economically feasible manner. Section 26(1) (b) requires that waste disposal must be explicitly authorised, and accomplished without polluting the environment or harming human health and well being.

In terms of Section 68(1) a maximum penalty of R10, 000,000 or a jail sentence of up to 10 years can be imposed for unauthorised waste disposal, depending on the severity of the impact on health and the environment.

S.27 (1) of the Act provides regulatory instruments focused specifically on littering. It stipulates that private land owners that provide public access to their property must provide suitable receptacles for litter and ensure that it is disposed of (in an authorised manner) before it becomes a nuisance. This is reinforced by Section 27 (2), which prohibits littering of public places by individuals.

In terms of Section 68(2) a maximum fine of up to R5, 000,000 or imprisonment for up to 5 years can be imposed for littering offences, depending on the severity of the offence.

The waste disposal and anti-littering measures provided in the Act are commonly implemented as municipal by-laws and are usually enforced by local law enforcement agencies. These measures should be seen as providing the minimum requirements that need to be implemented in terms of such by-laws or that apply in the absence of by-laws. DEA will develop model by-laws that will serve as a template for the implementation of the Waste Act by local authorities.

The system for monitoring, compliance, and enforcement and the role of Municipal Waste Management Officers (WMOs) is described in Sections 5.2 and 5.4 of this strategy.

DEA will develop norms and standards as part of the WCMS as it applies to disposal facilities, and will promulgate them in terms of Section 7(1) (c) of the Waste Act. The norms and standards will include:

  • Norms and standards for the operation, maintenance and reporting requirements for general and hazardous waste landfills that will be build on the existing Minimum Requirements for Waste Disposal by Landfill guidelines and applied using the listing and licensing mechanism as described in Section 3.5.
  • Norms and standards to be implemented as special measures for the disposal of priority wastes.

Standards for thermal treatment of waste and the use of waste in cogeneration have already been developed through the Air Quality emissions standards and the National Policy on Thermal Treatment of General and Hazardous Waste.

A task team will be formed under the Authorisations and Waste Disposal Management Directorate of DEA to develop and co-ordinate the implementation of the programme for licensing described in Section 2.6 of the strategy.

3.10 Extended Producer Responsibility

The Waste Act establishes Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) as a regulatory mechanism. EPR applies to instances in which the nature of the waste from products is of sufficient threat to require producers to take responsibility for aspects of a products management beyond the point of sale. EPR programmes can focus on both the beginning stages of a product’s lifecycle i.e. how to avoid the generation of waste, and on the end stages i.e. how to manage its use and disposal.

There are two main types of EPR initiatives - voluntary initiatives, which account for the majority of EPR schemes in South Africa to date, and mandatory initiatives, which have been initiated or implemented through government regulation. Voluntary initiatives are typically undertaken by industry, and are usually aimed at post consumer waste streams. An example of a voluntary EPR initiative which has worked well is that of the Recycling Oil Saves the Environment (ROSE) Foundation’s used lubricating oil recycling initiative. Whilst industry is encouraged to initiate voluntary schemes, it is recognized that in some instances these need to be augmented by government regulatory support. For example, norms and standards are being developed to ensure that the garage and motor vehicle maintenance industry participate in oil recycling activities that are aligned with the ROSE Foundation scheme.

The mandatory EPR initiatives fall into two categories. The first category consists of government regulatory support to existing voluntary initiatives, i.e. where industry has initiated a voluntary EPR scheme but mandatory formalization of certain elements is deemed necessary to effectively enforce it. Such regulation may be at government’s discretion, or on request by the industry. An example would be the tyre recycling scheme initiated by SATRPCo, in which the government has established regulations to ensure operational compliance. The second category of mandatory initiatives consists of those which are initiated by government through regulatory intervention in response to intractable problems. An example of such an initiative is the mandatory point-of-sale levy on plastic bags.

Invoking mandatory EPR as per Section 18 of the Waste Act is an interventionist measure which will be applied when industry self regulation through an industry waste management plan or other measures has failed. In the first instance, the role of regulation will be to strengthen and support voluntary EPR programmes which are initiated and run by industry.

Before an EPR programme can be declared, the Minister must first consult with the Minister of Trade and Industry and the producers who will be affected by the notice. The Minister must also take into account the Republic’s obligations in terms of any applicable international agreements and consider any relevant scientific information, where after the Minister may publish a notice in the gazette which gives effect to section 18 of the Waste Act.

When publishing this notice, the Minister must identify the product or class of products, the EPR measures which apply to that product(s), and the person who must implement those measures. The measures, contained in section18(2), are in summary:

  • Applying the waste hierarchy to the waste arising from the product(s).
  • Implementation of a waste minimization programme and its funding.
  • Product labelling in respect of waste.
  • Product design in respect of waste minimization and cleaner production.
  • Product lifecycle assessment.

The following diagram shows the steps to be followed in the process of declaring an EPR programme, including the considerations, consultations and possible mechanisms which apply to EPR:

Figure 12: Process for declaring an EPR programme
Figure 12: Process for declaring an EPR programme

Currently there are no guidelines available for the development of EPR programmes. DEA will develop a set of guidelines in consultation with industry to assist with the development of voluntary and mandatory EPR programmes.

Section 18 of the Waste Act requires the Minister to consult with the Minister of Trade and Industry regarding any EPR initiative, and to consult the Minister of Finance regarding any financial arrangements for an EPR programme. This is especially pertinent where the EPR programme is likely to require product design considerations, or impact significantly on the economy or specific economic groups. The interdepartmental committee that is established in terms of section 5.8 of this NWMS will also consider proposals for mandatory EPR regulations.

Once the above guidelines and structures are in place, a pilot EPR project will be undertaken to test the approaches and mechanisms, using non-complex industries, such as lead paint.

It is important to note that the state is not obliged to fund EPR initiatives, and that the primary obligation for funding rests with producers, retailers and consumers along the value chain. Financial arrangements will need to be tailored to individual EPR programmes, and the key challenge in terms of financial arrangements will be establishing who along the value chain bears what portion of the costs. A guideline on the appointment of costs for EPR programmes will assist with this process, and this will be developed by DEA in consultation with industry.

3.11 Consumer responsibility and protection

Consumers are protected by the Waste Act at the same time as having responsibilities in terms of waste management. Section 16 of the Waste Act establishes a general duty in respect of waste management, and sets out various responsibilities for all holders of waste to minimize waste and its toxicity, to manage waste such that it does not endanger health and the environment, and to ensure that waste is disposed of responsibly. Section 16(1) is applicable to all ‘holders of waste’, which includes households and individuals.

Employers are also charged with preventing an employee from contravening this Act, which has implications for labour relations and terms of employment.

Section 16(2) obliges retailers to take reasonable steps to inform the public about the health and environment risks of products that are likely to result in the generation of hazardous waste. This measure needs to be read in conjunction with the Consumer Protection Act (CPA) which covers product labelling and trade descriptions. Section 24(4)(a) of the CPA states that the Minister of Trade and Industry may prescribe categories of goods that are required to have a trade description applied to them. This can be applied to goods which produce a category of hazardous waste. Section 24(5) goes on to include imported products within these provisions.

There are some additional measures in the Waste Act which also address labelling requirements and product information. Section 18(2)(e) of the Waste Act stipulates that the Minister may, as part of an EPR scheme, specify the labelling requirements in respect of waste. Further, section 30(2)(h) of the Waste Act states that when notifying an industry of the requirement for an IndWMP, the Minister may, as part of the notification, request that the IndWMP include mechanisms for informing the public of the impact of the waste-generating products or packaging on the environment.

Therefore, if a category of goods is required to have a trade description applied to it due to the health or environmental implications of the waste it produces, this must trigger one of the above waste management measures dealing with information provision and / or labelling. Where a product is imported, labelling requirements should be aligned with the information requirements through the SARS tariff codes (see section 5.5 regarding mechanisms to give effect to international obligations).

DEA will coordinate efforts in respect of product labelling and information with the dti through the bilateral committee established to coordinate the application of waste management measures.

Section 25 of the CPA requires that goods which are reconditioned, rebuilt or remade, and which still bear the original trademarks, must apply a notice to these products stating that they have been reconditioned, rebuilt or remade. This will have implications for the re-use of reconditioned items, in which instance labelling and information requirements must be met.

Section 59 of the CPA stipulates that if a good, or any component, remnant, container or packaging, has been prohibited from disposal into a common waste collection system, the supplier of such an item must accept its return by a consumer, without charge, and in turn, the producer of such items must accept its return by the supplier. Section 59(2) of the CPA states that where IndWMPs or regulations have provided for a goods collection facility for specific waste types, consumers may dispose or deposit such goods at such facilities. It is therefore envisaged that where a prohibition on disposal, as contemplated in Section 59, is brought into effect, this would trigger the development of an appropriate waste management measure. Usually this would be in the form of an IndWMP, but in certain circumstances an EPR programme may be required. A consultative process between the affected parties and DEA will be followed to determine the appropriate measure. Where the provision of take back facilities already exists, mechanisms for informing the public of this provision must be included in the IndWMP or in regulations which provide for the facilities. In addition, norms and standards for the accessibility of the goods collection facility may be required. 

Interpretation issues regarding the requirement to accept returned prohibited waste without charge, specifically in terms of the potential impact this may have on the use of taxes, levies and deposit fee systems have been raised. DEA will develop a guideline to clarify the interpretation of section 59 of the CPA and the associated use of economic instruments for waste management.

Section 16(3) of the Waste Act sets out the measures which may be used in order to implement section 16.  These include measures to:

  • Investigate, assess and evaluate the impact of the waste in question.
  • Cease, modify or control the behaviour which produces the waste.
  • Comply with norms, standards and management practices.
  • Eliminate the cause of the pollution.
  • Remediate the effects of the pollution.

The Minister or MEC may issue regulations regarding the implementation of these measures. DEA will monitor the threats posed by waste to health and the environment on an ongoing basis, and will develop appropriate measures to protect consumers and the environment.

3.12 Economic instruments

The Waste Act provides various legislative measures for the use of economic instruments. These will be applied within the context of the overall fiscal and taxation policy established by National Treasury, and the specific measures for environmental fiscal and taxation reform announced by the Minister of Finance in the annual budget tabled to Parliament. The selection and use of economic measure, including pricing, taxation, subsidies, incentives and  fiscal measures will also be aligned with the principles established by NEMA, including the ‘polluter pays’ principle.

Economic instruments complement and support more traditional ‘command and control’ regulation. They can achieve behaviour changes indirectly by creating a set of incentives and / or disincentives through pricing and can offer a more cost-effective and dynamic form of regulation than the traditional command and control approach. However the introduction of economic instruments requires a number of factors to be in place prior to their widespread application.

According to the “polluter pays’ principle all generators of waste (including businesses and households) are responsible for covering the costs of managing the waste generated. These include not only the direct financial costs associated with the safe collection, treatment and disposal of waste; but also the external costs (externalities) of waste generation and disposal, such as health and environmental impacts. 

Full cost accounting of the delivery of waste services is essential in order to ensure that waste services are appropriately priced. Currently only a portion of these costs are being passed on to households and commercial enterprises, which creates the wrong set of incentives, undermines waste minimisation efforts and ultimately undermines the polluter pays principle.  A crucial component of this NWMS is ensuring that there is a proper understanding of costs in the sector and corresponding pricing of waste management services. Getting the prices right in the sector is not, strictly speaking, an ‘economic instrument’ but it lays the basis for more refined instruments to be introduced at a later stage.

The following strategic approach will be followed as a general approach to the preparation for and consideration of economic instruments:

  • Financial sustainability of the waste management system: Government will ensure that public sector waste management is managed as a financially sustainable service. Financial sustainability also includes the use of cross subsidies as appropriate for under-provided public goods and for addressing negative externalities of inadequate service provision.
  • Full cost accounting and pricing of solid waste services. Government will ensure that the full financial costs are accounted for and considered in the process of tariff setting. This includes the full costs of service provision, monitoring and enforcement costs, airspace development, and landfill closure costs. In support of this DEA will provide:
    • Tariff setting guidelines and requirements for municipalities and other providers of waste disposal services including full cost accounting requirements in a simple format; and
    • Guidance on the need to separate collection charges from disposal charges – and for municipalities to have appropriate internal charge / cost allocation systems for the provision of the correct internal incentives in the system.
  • Evaluation of the full social and environmental costs: Once the full financial costs of solid waste management are accounted for, a further evaluation of the external costs of resource degradation and external costs of inadequate service delivery will be undertaken. An essential component of this is the development of the waste information system and associated research.
  • Establishment of administrative mechanisms: The establishment of the administrative mechanisms needed for effective management of the sector (primarily information, monitoring, compliance and enforcement, and pricing) are preconditions for effective economic instruments.
  • Specific consideration of selected instruments: DEA will undertake a process of evaluation of specific economic instruments in the light of the strategic objectives established by the NWMS. 

The following issues will be considered when selecting and introducing the most appropriate economic instruments:

  • Environmental effectiveness: The tax instrument must be focused on a clear environmental objective and must be well targeted to that objective. To ensure that the tax is as effective as possible, the best design should be aimed for and the number of exemptions kept to a minimum.
  • Tax Revenue: The level of tax revenues and the way in which they are used are important considerations. Certain environmentally-related taxes will be capable of raising significant amounts of revenue, particularly where the demand for the good or service being taxed is price inelastic. In other cases, tax revenues may be small and therefore of secondary importance.
  • Support for the tax: Taxes are necessary to fund government activities and the provision of public goods and services. With every tax reform, there are likely to be winners and losers and these groups of stakeholders need to be clearly identified. All relevant stakeholders need to be engaged in the assessment process.
  • Legislative aspects: The Minister of Finance is responsible for the imposition of taxes, duties and levies. Different environmentally-related tax instruments may require different legislative amendments (e.g. direct versus indirect taxation). With respect to international commitments, environmentally-related tax measures will need to be compatible with World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules and with on-going tax harmonisation efforts within the Southern African region through SADC.
  • Technical and administrative issues: Technical and administrative issues are important considerations that can influence whether or not a tax instrument may be appropriate. Ideally, the tax base should be as close as possible to the environmental objective, and the tax rate should be set according to the level of the externality. Minimising the possibilities of tax avoidance, tax evasion, compliance and collection costs are other important design considerations.
  • Competitiveness effects: The impact of environmentally-related taxes on domestic industries and other aspects of the economy such as employment and inflation need to be considered, and mitigation measures may be required. These may include, amongst other things, reduced tax rates, tax ceilings, tax refunds, appropriate mechanisms to recycle tax revenues, or tax shifting options.
  • Distributional impacts: An understanding of the way in which environmentally-related taxes impact on different income groups is important. For every proposed tax reform, the likely tax burden on different income groups and the anticipated distribution of environmental benefits needs to be assessed. The possibility of making environmentally-related taxes progressive should be integral to the design of any proposed instrument.
  • Adjoining policy areas: The extent to which environmentally-related taxes can assist in meeting other government policy objectives is an important consideration. From an environmental point of view, it is important therefore that any tax measure is aligned with other regulatory or voluntary approaches.

A number of economic measures have been identified that merit further consideration and research, and will be considered for implementation once the above mentioned prerequisites are in place. These are:

  • Deposit Refund Schemes:  These schemes are most suitable for products that are easy to identify and handle; feasible to use and/ or recycle; require careful disposal (e.g. batteries); and where co-operation is feasible between producers, retailers and consumers. Deposit refund schemes will be considered for specific waste streams where the private sector is not effectively addressing the issue.  Introduction of deposit refund schemes for specific waste streams will be done in close consultation with the industry concerned.
  • Waste Disposal Taxes: Waste disposal taxes address the external social and environmental costs of waste disposal and provide pricing that takes into account the waste generation and disposal decision by private actors. These only impact on waste generation if the generators experience increases in costs. The risk of waste streams being diverted to incineration and illegal disposal are high. Waste disposal taxes require effective regulation and monitoring of landfill sites to be in place.  Where a specific waste disposal site is underpriced the capacity to tax a specific site will be considered. Consideration of alternate economic interventions will be compared to existing CDM incentives for methane recovery in landfill sites. 
  • Product Taxes: Product taxes will be directed at products or materials for which there exists a policy intention to diminish the product or material over time or remove it from use or production. This instrument will be considered if other instruments are not better suited to manage a specific problem.
  • Tax interventions for hazardous waste disposal: Tax interventions for hazardous waste disposal will be considered in instances where more effective management of hazardous waste generators is required. 

A crucial consideration for economic instruments will be where these are proposed as appropriate supporting measures to complement IndWMPs.

DEA and National Treasury will undertake a bilateral programme of research in order to develop and refine an appropriate set of economic instruments.

3.13 Fiscal mechanisms for waste management

In planning for the implementation of the Waste Management Act, DEA has undertaken a costing of the overall impact on government budgets as a result of the different measures contained in the Act. Current government spending on waste management is estimated to amount to approximately R 2 070 million per annum (2007 estimates)17. Importantly, the Act is expected to result in long-term savings due, amongst other things, to reduced resources spent on reactive environmental clean-up operations and reduced need for landfill airspace. However there will be short to medium term increases required in government budgets in the range of R 205 million in the first year after introduction of the Act, rising to approximately R390 million in the second year. The net savings in government budgets are only expected from year 9 or 10 onwards. The net present value (NPV) of these impacts over a 10-year period amounts to R 1 390 million at a discount rate of 3.5%. Implementation of the Waste Management Act will therefore add approximately 5% to the total discounted waste management cost over the next 10 years. This means that the additional costs to government budgets as a consequence of the Waste Act will be limited.

Funding for waste management functions in the national and provincial government is allocated according to the Division of Revenue Act which prescribes how revenue will be divided between the three spheres of government and between the nine provinces.

The budget for waste management is allocated to the national and provincial environmental departments. All budgets are formulated within the context of the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF), which details three-year rolling expenditure and revenue plans for national and provincial departments. Budgets are developed within the political priorities which are clearly spelt out in the annual State of the Nation address by the President and Medium Term Strategic Framework.

Allocations to the provinces are based on the equitable share from the division of revenue, and their share of conditional grants.

Local government is entitled to an equitable share of revenue raised nationally to enable it to provide basic services and perform the functions allocated to it. The equitable share is an unconditional transfer, and the distribution of the equitable share between individual municipalities is formula based, taking into account population, levels of poverty and service delivery, historical backlogs and capacity. The equitable share is part of the regulatory and institutional framework which enables local government to operate sustainably and contributes basic fiscal resources for each municipality to deliver a package of basic services to low income households. Included in this package is free basic refuse removal to the indigent.

The Municipal Infrastructure Grant (MIG) is a capital subsidy that supplements the funding of infrastructure programmes on municipal budgets, in order to address backlogs in municipal infrastructure required for the provision of basic services including waste services.

In December 2008, Cabinet approved the introduction of the Municipal Infrastructure Grant for Cities through splitting the Municipal Infrastructure Grant (MIG) into two windows. This decision allows a differentiated funding approach to be introduced to account for significant differences in context, challenges and capabilities between larger urban municipalities and smaller, more rural municipalities. Smaller, more rural municipalities will continue to operate under the existing MIG framework, with some innovations introduced over time to address capacity and resource deficiencies in order to improve expenditure outcomes. The MIG (Cities) focuses on enabling cities to more effectively manage, support and account for built environment outcomes.

The equitable share and MIG provide an operating and capital subsidy respectively for municipal services, including waste. Unlike the allocation to provinces, the municipal sector raises over 90% of its income from own revenue sources. The provision of waste services is funded primarily via local tariffs for waste services set by each municipality, supplemented by allocations from property rates. Given the public good nature of waste services provision, there is merit to a portion of waste management costs being subsidised from the property rates account.

Unlike the national fiscus, most municipalities are not favourably positioned to absorb the impact of the local fallout from the global economic crisis. Consequently, national government has sought to insulate the local government sphere from the full impact of the slowdown in national revenue collections.  To supplement municipal own revenue an additional R12.2 billion is allocated to local government over the medium term. This means national transfers to local government will grow by 8.4 per cent from 50.1 billion in 2009/10 to 73.2 billion in 2012/13, which is an important tool for supporting local operations and services.18  Despite the above average transfers to municipalities, the efficacy and sustainability of delivery of solid waste services is constrained by severe fiscal challenges. Capital and operating expenditures are much lower than the required levels, and operating deficits continue to expand. The structure of capital financing for waste services is not optimal, with reliance on grant financing, subsidy leakage to non-poor consumers, and user charge revenues that are too low. The municipal solid waste sector is in general facing a serious fiscal situation, with operating deficits ballooning to the point at which the sustainability of service delivery will be threatened.

In this context, the need to expand delivery solid waste services sector requires greater efficiency of fiscal mechanisms and a clear strategy to improve operating efficiencies, secure financial sustainability of waste services delivery, and boost municipal revenues.

As a first step, municipalities will undertake full cost accounting for waste services, in order to understand the long term capital and operating costs of the service, and to be able to properly evaluate different options for levels of service and extension of services to unserviced areas. A municipal circular will be drawn up and circulated by National Treasury in order to provide guidelines for ring-fencing service budgets and the associated accounting practices required to facilitate a greater degree of transparency in subsidy levels relative to the cost of service delivery. Full cost accounting for waste services will be implemented in all municipalities by 2011.

Secondly municipalities will develop and implement cost reflective tariffs in order to correctly price waste service provision. Municipalities will structure the tariffs for utility services such that they generate the resources required to fund the maintenance, renewal and expansion of the infrastructure required to provide the services. Tariff increases will need to be appropriately phased in such that their impact on consumers and businesses can be managed. National Treasury requires that municipalities must justify in their budget documentation all increases in excess of the 6 per cent upper boundary of the South African Reserve Bank’s inflation target. Excessive increases in property rates and other tariffs are likely to be counterproductive, resulting in higher levels of non-payment and increased bad debts. When considering increasing user charges, indigent populations and local economic conditions need to be taken into account. Nevertheless, in the long term, above-inflation increases in user charge rates will be unavoidable.

To avoid the unintended consequences of this approach (in particular an increase in illegal dumping as a result of increased disposal tariffs) the enforcement capacity in municipalities will need to be increased in parallel.  Municipalities must ensure that by-laws are updated to support the enforcement of regulatory measures. These measures will be included in municipal IWMPs.

Once financial sustainability and operational efficiency have been achieved in waste service provision, further amendments to tariff structuring to promote waste minimisation can be considered. The impact of the introduction of volumetric tariffs in the City of Tshwane will be evaluated by DEA, and a guideline developed on municipal waste service tariffs.

Targeted subsidies to ensure the provision of a basic level of service to indigent households are required. In this regard DEA will finalise a policy on Free Basic Refuse Removal (FBRR) services in 2010. Municipalities must manage subsidies to reduce subsidy leakage to non-poor households. Indigent households registered for Free Basic Refuse Removal (FBRR) services must be re-evaluated after a given period of time as specified by the concerned municipality. Abuse should be managed through the disciplinary measures envisaged by the FBRR policy.

DEA will participate in municipal budget reviews undertaken by National Treasury, and in performance monitoring of metropolitan councils, in order to ensure that waste sector objectives are met in relation to municipal financial management.

To support the requirement for increased capital investment in the waste sector it is proposed that a solid waste project development fund will be established in consultation with National Treasury. The objective of the fund will be to:

  • Ensure that capital expenditures in the sector increase.
  • Create a robust pipeline of municipal projects.
  • Develop an appropriate capital financing mix. 

The fund will operate through two funding windows:

  • Universal service window: this will be used to assist municipalities to make greater use of MIG for financing solid waste infrastructure to support labour intensive projects that expand services to poor households. The efficacy of the window can be measured by the proportion of total MIG funding allocated to solid waste infrastructure.
  • Private financing: this window will support municipalities to develop projects that may be financed through development contributions, carbon credits, private investment or borrowing.

DEA will request that a proportion of MIG funding is earmarked for bulk solid waste infrastructure during the annual MTEC. This earmarked portion will support infrastructure in instances where MIG funding cannot be utilised, for example trucks and other infrastructure that are used for ongoing service delivery in small to medium sized municipalities.

DEA together with National Treasury will examine the creation of a remediation fund. The chapter on remediation describes the provisions and procedures related to the remediation of contaminated lands. A for specific fiscal allocation for remediation is required to enable the state to remedy the environmental damage where the person responsible for the damage cannot be identified. It is anticipated that fund this will be earmarked for administration of the costs related to state initiated site assessment and remediation, where the liability for land contamination cannot be apportioned.

Further investigation is required into the merits of a dedicated fund for supporting the extension of municipal waste services to unserviced communities. DEA is currently conducting a pilot project in Mafikeng municipality, utilising EPWP funds, to deliver waste services through a community based, labour intensive and SMME driven model. At the same time a programme of technical assistance is supporting the municipality to take over and fund the service after an initial three year period. DEA is providing grant funds to cover the costs of the service and capacity building, and the level of funding support is progressively stepped down to the point that the municipality takes over the funding obligation. Based on the lessons learnt from this model, DEA together with National Treasury and COGTA will consider the most appropriate fiscal mechanism for rolling this model out on a broader scale.

The above mechanisms form part of an overarching fiscal framework for implementation of the NWMS and the achievement of the waste hierarchy. DEA will work in close conjunction with National Treasury and the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs to monitor the implementation of the framework, and ensure that the necessary policy and regulatory tools are implemented.


17Clements J,on behalf of Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, “Assessment of the likely impact on government budgets of the proposed National Environmental Management Waste Bill”, May 2007.

18National Treasury 2010 Budget Review, Chapter 9