3.3 Norms and standards

The Waste Act allows for an integrated system of norms and standards across the three spheres of government. The drafting of certain norms and standards at a national level are obligatory, while others are at the discretion of the Department of Environmental Affairs. 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 priority to develop obligatory standards, which include:

  • 7(1)(a) classification of waste;
  • 7(1)(b) planning for and provision of waste management services; and
  • 7(1)(c) 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 regulations discussed in Section 3.2 will be finalised in 2012.

In relation to waste services (Section 7(1)(b), the National Domestic Waste Collection Standard addresses the collection of waste and includes requirements for separating waste at source, measures to promote recycling, and prescriptions for collection frequency.

In terms of discretionary national norms and standards, the priority is to develop technical standards for waste management activities that do not require a licence. These standards will promote re-use, recycling and recovery of wastes. Standards will also be developed for soil quality and remediation of contaminated land. These standards will be finalised in 2012.

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

  • Contribution to achieving the waste management hierarchy, with particular focus on the re-use, recycling and recovery of wastes.
  • Extent of the environmental impact.
  • Impact on availability of landfill space.
  • Relationship to other priority sectors (such as waste-to-energy and its contribution to the climate change mitigation strategy).
  • Existence of established, proactive industries that adhere to additional operating standards.
  • 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, provisions for provincial and local government norms and standards will only be used where national provisions cannot effectively address provincial or local waste management issues. Instances where possible regional variation might be required will be identified and discussed in the appropriate intergovernmental forums.

3.3.1 Mechanisms for developing standards

There are two primary mechanisms to develop norms and standards. Standards that are non-technical, or on which there is already clear consensus, will follow DEA's internal procedures for standard setting as with the development of the National Domestic Waste Collection Standards. The development of complex technical standards that must be scientifically exact will use the standard setting procedure of the South African Technical Infrastructure (SATI), which falls under the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS).

SABS standards are developed via a consensual process using multi-stakeholder committees that involve those responsible for meeting the standards 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.

While standards developed through SABS are voluntary, the Waste Act empowers the Minister to make such standards mandatory. 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 support the promulgated standards.

Agents accredited by the South African National Accreditation System (SANAS) will certify compliance with the developed SABS standards. The SABS will use globally standardised measurements, which the metrology unit of SABS provides on request. Whilst SANAS will not offer training to private agencies, it will provide accreditation training for their assessors.

DEA and the SABS will sign a memorandum of understanding that sets out the basis on which the Department can develop certain technical standards through the SATI mechanisms.