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 Last Updated: 2021-05-31 05:06:01 
Approach to waste in South Africa

Waste management in South Africa is governed by the National Environmental Management: Waste Act, 2008 (Act No. 59 of 2008) which came into effect on 1 July 2009. Following the enactment of the Waste Act, the Minister of Environmental Affairs established the National Waste Management Strategy (NWMS) in terms of Section 6(1) for achieving the objects of the Act. The NWMS was approved for implementation by the Cabinet in November 2011. The Waste Act supports the waste management hierarchy in its approach to waste management, by promoting cleaner production, waste minimisation, reuse, recycling and waste treatment with disposal seen as a last resort in the management of waste.


Introduction to Waste


Definition of Waste according to the National Envornmental Management: Waste Amendment Act, 2014 (Act No 26 of 2014)


"Waste" means -

(a) any substance, material or object, that is unwanted, rejected, abandoned, discarded or disposed of, by the holder of the substance, material or object, whether or not such substance, material or object can be re-used, recycled or recovered and includes all wastes as defined in Schedule 3 to this Act; or  

(b) any substance, material or object that is not included in Schedule 3 that may be defined as a waste by the Minister by notice in the Gazette,

but any waste or portion of waste, referred to in paragraph (a) and (b) ceases to be a waste - 

(i) once an application for its re-use, recycling or recovery has been approved or, after such approval, once it is, or has been re-used, recycled or recovered;

(ii) where approval is not required, once a waste is or has been re-used, recycled or recovered;

(iii) where the Minister has, in terms of section 74, exempted any waste or a portion of waste generated by a particular process from the definition of waste; or

(iv) where the Minister has, in the prescribed manner, excluded any waste stream or a portion of a waste stream from the definition of waste. 


Waste Classifications as defined in the NEM: Waste Amendment Act, 2014


Waste is divided into two classes based on the risk it poses - general waste and hazardous waste.

  • "general waste" means waste that does not pose an immediate hazard or threat to

    health or to the environment, and includes�

    (a) domestic waste;

    (b) building and demolition waste;

    (c) business waste; 

  • (d) inert waste; or

          (e) any waste classified as non-hazardous waste in terms of the regulations made under section 69, and includes non-hazardous substances, materials or objects within the business, domestic, inert or building and demolition    


    • "hazardous waste" means any waste that contains organic or inorganic elements or compounds that may, owing to the inherent physical, chemical or toxicological characteristics of that waste, have a detrimental impact on health and the environment and includes hazardous substances, materials or objects within the business waste, residue deposits and residue stockpiles.
    Integrated Pollution and Waste Management for South Africa