Critical perspectives on the definition of waste in South Africa : experiences within the steelmaking industry
Taljaard, Adriana Cecilia.
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During the past few decades the focus of waste management in South Africa has been emphasised, especially in view of the increase in economic development which has resulted in an increase in commercial, industrial, hazardous, mining, power generation as well as radioactive waste. The iron and steel making industry in South Africa provides for a vast amount of recycling opportunities of various materials resulting from the iron and steelmaking process. The regulation of waste management in South Africa may have some significant implications on this particular industry. In this dissertation the history of waste management legislation in South Africa is researched. It is found that initially only waste disposal was regulated, but over time, in addition to disposal, other aspects were also regulated in terms of other pieces of environmental legislation, such as the recycling, recovery and storage of waste. In an attempt to provide for uniform waste management regulation in South Africa, and in order to achieve sustainable development by the provision of a new waste hierarchy, the National Environmental Management: Waste Act was introduced. As part of this legislation, a new definition of waste was also introduced. It is indicated as part of this dissertation that various interpretations of the definition of ‘waste’ are possible. It is also indicated that these various interpretations may not only have some significant implications for the iron and steelmaking industry in South Africa, but may also have significant implications for the implementation of the waste hierarchy, as envisaged in terms of current waste management legislation. In the light of the above, and after taking comments by the members of the South African Iron and Steel Institute into consideration, recommendations are made for an improved legislative framework for waste management in South Africa. It is recommended that there should be a trade–off between the protection of the environment and the re–use, recovery and recycling opportunities of materials available to industry in the short–term as well as the long–term. In order to achieve such a trade–off, it is suggested that the ‘End–of Waste’ criteria in South Africa be reconsidered and re–evaluated to ensure more legal certainty with regard as to exactly constitutes waste and to provide for a definition of ‘waste’ which is clearly defined.
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