The purpose of this Section is to describe the context within which the National Waste Management Strategy (NWMS) has been developed. This includes the methodology followed in developing the NWMS, the legislative context that frames the development of the NWMS, and a problem statement which the NWMS seeks to address.

This NWMS seeks a common platform for action between stakeholders to systematically improve waste management in South Africa. The country is faced with a rapidly growing, urbanisation and consumerist population but our environment has a finite ability to absorb solid and liquid waste.

Through the country's commitment to sustainable development, South Africa aims to balance the broader economic and social challenges of a developing and unequal society while protecting our environmental resources. There is a need to eliminate the unnecessary use of raw materials and the need to support sustainable product design, resource efficiency and waste prevention. This means re-using products where possible; and recovering value from products when they reach their life span through recycling, composting or energy recovery. While the elimination of waste in its entirety may not be feasible, it is possible through the systematic application of the waste management hierarchy to reach a point within the next few decades where, re-use, recycling, recovery and treatment overtake landfills as preferred options for waste management.

The NWMS is a legislative requirement of the National Environmental Management: Waste Act, 2008 (Act No. 59 of 2008), here after referred to as the "Waste Act". The purpose of the NWMS is to achieve the objects of the Waste Act, which defines its scope and specifies its contents. Organs of state and affected persons are obliged to give effect to the NWMS.

The Waste Act indicates that the Minister must review the strategy at intervals of not more than five years. While the period that the strategy covers is not specified, the bulk of its provisions will relate to the five year period prior to the next review of the strategy.

The NWMS consists of five sections, each containing a number of sub-sections:

  1. Section One describes the methodology followed in developing the NWMS, establishes the legislative context framing the NWMS, and sets out the challenges facing the management of waste.
  2. Section Two sets out the overall goals and approach to implementing the NWMS, and the strategies to be followed to achieve each of the goals.
  3. Section Three describes each of the regulatory and economic instruments that will be used to give effect to the strategy set out in Section Two.
  4. Section Four deals with institutional mechanisms for implementing the NWMS, and sets out the roles, responsibilities, coordination and review mechanisms.
  5. The last section is an action plan that sets out how the three spheres of government and industry will give effect to the NWMS is in Appendix One.