4.10 Mechanisms to give effect to international obligations

Various international agreements to which South Africa has acceded relate to waste management. A number of non-binding conventions and protocols are also relevant to waste management. This section summarises the main actions in the NWMS related to implementing international agreements.

4.10.1 The Basel Convention

The Basel Convention, adopted in 1989, has the greatest bearing on the Waste Act as it addresses the trans-boundary movement of hazardous wastes and their disposal, setting out the categorization of hazardous waste and the policies between member countries.

DEA is developing MOUs with the International Trade Administration Commission (ITAC)and the South African Revenue Service (SARS) that effectively address the provisions of the Basel Convention.

DEA is considering accession to the amendments to the Basel Convention that ban the import and export of hazardous wastes. DEA is also currently developing a policy on imports and exports of waste that will address this.

DEA and DTI are jointly addressing the import and export control aspects of the Basel Convention, together with the chemical conventions. Control will happen through ITAC permits and SARS tariff codes.

4.10.2 The Montreal Protocol

The Montreal Protocol Treaty, revised in 1999, protects the ozone layer by phasing out the production of several substances that contribute to ozone depletion, with the aim of ozone layer recovery by 2050. This has relevance for waste management in instances where such obsolete products enter the waste stream. DEA will finalise and publish the National Implementation Plan for the Montreal Protocol. The plan will include the development on an Ozone Depletion Substance (ODS) strategy and regulations will provide for the phasing out of specified substances and their safe disposal. These will be gazetted for public comment in 2012.

4.10.3 The Rotterdam Convention

The Rotterdam Convention promotes and enforces transparency in the importation of hazardous chemicals and whilst it explicitly excludes waste, its implementation may lead to bans on listed chemicals. Some of these chemicals may occur in stockpiles of obsolete chemicals such as pesticides that have been identified as a major waste management challenge. Extended producer responsibility schemes will be used to effectively manage obsolete chemicals.

A study to investigate the extent of manufacture, use, import and export of new chemicals listed in the Rotterdam Convention will determine whether South Africa should ratify the newly added chemicals. This document will be finalised in 2012. A process to identify and ban pesticides and industrial chemicals listed in Annex lll (that South Africa has not yet banned) has started. Responsible departments will finalise arrangements for banning orders in 2012.

4.10.4 The Stockholm Convention

The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), which entered into force in 2004, requires that member countries phase out POPs and prevent their import or export. Parties to the Convention are also required to undertake the following responsibilities:

  • Develop and implement appropriate strategies to identify stockpiles, products and articles in use that contain or are contaminated with POPs.
  • Manage stockpiles and wastes in an environmentally sound manner.
  • Dispose of waste in a way that destroys or irreversibly transforms POPs content.
  • Prohibit recycling, recovery, reclamation, direct re-use or alternative use of POPs.
  • Endeavour to develop strategies to identify contaminated sites and perform eventual remediation in an environmentally sound manner.

A National Implementation Plan has been developed and it will be reviewed in light of the Waste Act and finalised in 2012.

Furthermore, a study has been initiated to investigate the extent of manufacture, use, import and export of new POPs listed in this convention. The study will determine if South Africa should ratify the newly added POPs. This document will be finalised in 2012.

4.10.5 New Mercury Convention

Negotiations on a global convention on mercury were initiated in Stockholm in June 2010 and will cover all mercury uses and emissions. It is anticipated that a legally binding treaty to control mercury pollution will be adopted.

4.10.6 Various conventions dealing with dumping waste at sea

Despite decades of regulation at the International Maritime Organisation and elsewhere, and bans on discharging and dumping of nearly all shipping waste streams, such wastes routinely find their way into the sea with little evidence that these discharges are diminishing. The disincentive to use the Port Reception Facilities (PRF) can be removed by incorporating the cost of PRF use into the general harbour dues that all ships pay. Such an approach is generally known as a "no-special-fee" system, and is already in place in other parts of the world. Accordingly, the Department of Transport, in conjunction with DEA, will investigate and implement a "no-special-fee" system in all South African ports, and actively promote this as a standard international requirement.

4.10.7 Coordination mechanisms

DEA and the dti have established the Interdepartmental Committee for the Sound Management of Chemicals to coordinate the implementation of national legislation and action plans to manage chemicals in line with international agreements and instruments. This committee integrates the previously separate coordination structures for activities relating to the Rotterdam Convention (the Chemical Review Committee) (CRC) and the Stockholm Convention (the POPs review committee) (POPRC).

The committee consists of representatives from all affected government departments, including the SABS, ITAC, South African National Defence Force (SANDF) and South African Police Service (SAPS). The committee also convenes a multi-stakeholder forum that includes representatives from provincial and local government, labour, business, civil society, and academic and research institutions.

The work programme for the Interdepartmental Committee includes recommendations on whether to accede to international agreements, and advice on programmes of action for agreements to which South Africa has already acceded, including proposals for drafting the necessary regulations.

4.10.8 Import and export control

The systems for controlling the import and export of chemicals and hazardous waste have now been integrated with the provisions of the International Trade Administration Act (Act 71 of 2003). This Act created a permit system to control the import and export of goods specified by regulation. The system falls under a directorate in the dti - ITAC. ITAC's primary function is to administer the provisions of the International Trade Administration Act.

The Minister of Trade and Industry issues regulations to either ban the import of specified goods or class of goods, or require that they adhere to the conditions stated in a permit that the Commission issues. DEA will identify the tariff codes of and restrictions on chemicals and other products and submit these to the dti. The Minister of Trade of Industry will then issue regulations for these goods under the International Trade Administration Act. SARS's Customs and Excise division in turn uses the tariff codes to enforce the prohibitions or restrictions associated with a particular tariff code.

To assist DEA and the dti with the administration of this system, the relevant Multilateral Export Agreement (MEA) Convention secretariats will be requested to assist member countries to identify the relevant international tariff codes. Aligning mechanisms for import and export control with the MEAs is one of the central mechanisms to give effect to our international obligations.