3.7 Priority wastes

The declaration of a priority waste is a regulatory measure in terms of the Waste Act that applies to wastes that pose a serious threat to health and the environment. The consequent waste management measures can severely limit or prohibit the generation of the waste. Such a declaration may also require detailed registration and reporting on the waste, limit its import and export, and ultimately culminate in a waste being phased out completely. The criteria for declaring a priority waste will therefore be considered very carefully prior to declaration.

3.7.1 Application

A waste may be declared a priority waste by the Minister, or the Minister on behalf of the MEC, by notice in the Gazette50. The Minister must have reasonable grounds 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:

  1. specific waste management measures are required to address the threat, or
  2. that specific waste management measures may improve the reduction, re-use, recycling and recovery rates or reduce the health and environmental impacts of the waste.


  1. Section 14(1) of the Waste Act.

3.7.2 Process for declaring a priority waste

The Waste Act requires the Minister to consult with stakeholders that may be affected by the declaration. A steering committee consisting of affected departments, industries and civil society organisations will guide the process of declaring a priority waste.

Informed decision making will be supported by scientific research, analysis of applicable waste management measures and regulatory and economic impact analyses.

If the declaration of the priority waste will 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.

The following diagram illustrates the process for identifying and declaring a priority waste:

Figure 4: Decision Making Process for Declaring Priority Wastes

Figure 4: Decision Making Process for Declaring Priority Wastes

Once the declaration of the priority waste and its waste management measures has been decided, the administrative and regulatory mechanisms needed to implement the declaration (including requirements for registering, monitoring, and reporting) will be set out in a plan.

The plan will include the specific consequences of the declaration. Possible consequences may be the prohibition on the import, export, processing, manufacture, or sale of priority wastes (or products likely to generate priority wastes), unless such activities comply with the regulatory measures and requirements in the implementation plan.