3.2 Categorisation and classification

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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




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