The Waste Act introduced a definition of waste, which has major implications for those activities that were traditionally not treated or regarded as waste. The Waste Act defines waste as follows:

"waste" means any substance, whether or not that substance can be reduced, reused, recycled and recovered -

  1. that is surplus, unwanted, rejected, discarded, abandoned or disposed of;
  2. which the generator has no further use of for the purposes of production;
  3. that must be treated or disposed of; or
  4. that is identified as a waste by the Minister by notice in the Gazette, and includes waste generated by the mining, medical or other sector; but -
    1. a by-product is not considered waste; and
    2. any portion of waste, once re-used, recycled and recovered, ceases to be waste;

Given the exclusion of by-products, their definition in terms of the Waste Act is important:

"by-product" means a substance that is produced as part of a process that is primarily intended to produce another substance or product and that has the characteristics of an equivalent virgin product or material;

To clarify some of these definitions, DEA has published its intended interpretation of the definition of waste and by-product as used in the Waste Act to help stakeholders understand the Department’s intentions.