The official journal of the Promoting integrated resources management
Diverting organics from landfill
Landfill 2019 The death of landfill?
Composting Unpacking the new standards
ISSN 1680-4902 • R50.00 (incl. VAT) • Vol. 21 No. 4 • November 2019
Earth Probiotic’s on-site solution
New guidelines for recyclables
Vol. 21, No. 4, November 2019
On the Cover
Contents NOVEMBER 2019
In signing the Sustainable Development Goals, South Africa has committed to halving food waste by 2030. BiobiN™, a new waste management system launched in South Africa, offers an easy solution for diverting food and organic waste from landfill. P6
Editor’s comment 3 President’s comment 5 News round-up 8 Events 36
Innovative solution diverts food and organic waste from landfill
Landfill 2019 The death of landfill? The need for a new approach Global lining solutions
Food waste composting: the ideal on-site solution Food waste producers hit by new regulations Standards for the composting of organic waste The climate change link The unanticipated impact of the liquid waste ban
10 12 14 15 16 18 20 21
Environmental Equipment Conveyor mobility improves throughput 22 Remediation Landfill A major step forward in landfill prohibitions
Environmental Remediation War-time mercury contamination rooted out
Surf’s up, or is it? Quantifying the plastics problem
Packaging Bioplastics and packaging: can they coexist? New guidelines for recyclable plastic packaging
34 Air quality
in association with
Medical Waste The duty of care
Circular Economy Air Quality The lost decade
25 26 28 29 31 32
Finding opportunities for quick wins
must be separated
and kept out of
the recycling waste stream.
Editor Danielle Petterson Managing editor Alastair Currie Journalist Nombulelo Manyana Head of design Beren Bauermeister Chief sub-editor Tristan Snijders Contributors Leon Grobbelaar, Neeraj Mannie Production & client liaison manager Antois-Leigh Botma Production coordinator Jacqueline Modise Group sales manager Chilomia Van Wijk Financial manager Andrew Lobban Distribution manager Nomsa Masina Distribution coordinator Asha Pursotham Printers Novus Print KZN Tel +27 (0)31 714 4700 Advertising sales Joanne Lawrie Cell +27 (0)82 346 5338 email@example.com
Publisher Jacques Breytenbach Novus Print (Pty) Ltd t/a 3S Media 46 Milkyway Avenue, Frankenwald, 2090 PO Box 92026, Norwood 2117 Tel +27 (0)11 233 2600 Fax +27 (0)11 234 7274/5 www.3smedia.co.za Annual subscription firstname.lastname@example.org R200.00 (incl VAT) South Africa ISSN 1680-4902 Institute of Waste Management of Southern Africa Tel +27 (0)11 675 3462 Email email@example.com All material herein is copyright protected and may not be reproduced either in whole or in part without the prior written permission of the publisher. The views and opinions of authors expressed in the magazine do not necessarily reflect those of the publisher, editor or the Institute of Waste Management of Southern Africa. © Copyright 2019. All rights reserved. Novus Holdings is a Level 1 Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE) Contributor, with 135% recognised procurement recognition. View our BBBEE scorecard here: https://novus.holdings/sustainability/transformation
Calling on corporates
he Landfill 2019 conference presented some chilling conclusions: despite their unsustainability, landfills are here to stay, with little change to be seen when it comes to the diversion of waste. The reasons were numerous – landfilling is too cheap compared to alternatives, legislation is not enforced, uncontrolled dumping is rife, publicprivate partnerships are prohibitively difficult to establish, education and awareness are lacking – the list goes on. The reality, however, remains that many municipalities are fast running out of airspace. In municipalities like Stellenbosch, which has already hit its landfill ‘day zero’, diversion of waste from landfill has become a necessity. But for those with remaining space, it appears a business-as-usual approach will continue. This means huge volumes of waste from which value could be extracted will continue to go to landfill.
The role of corporates To promote sustainability, many of South Africa’s corporates have already adopted strategies and technologies to reduce their water and energy consumption; however, it is far less common to hear of companies instituting waste minimisation and zero-waste-to-landfill strategies. Implementing alternatives like recycling, composting and waste-to-energy at a local government level can cost up to four times more than landfilling. In a country where municipalities face severe budget constraints, the burden again falls on our corporates to take up the mantle and drive waste minimisation in the private sector.
“a building that reduces, reuses, and recovers its waste streams to convert them to valuable resources with zero solid waste sent to landfills over the course of the year (net zero), or where the building can take waste from other sites and divert it for reuse, and not to landfill (net positive).” Although this sounds like a big ask, it is achievable. Sun International’s Wild Coast Sun achieved Africa’s first Net Zero Waste rating when the GBCSA awarded it Net Zero Waste (Pilot) certification early this year. Sun International has embarked on an aggressive zero-waste-to-landfill initiative to be achieved by the end of 2020 at all its South African units. The journey for Wild Coast Sun began in 2014; by the end of 2016, the resort had gone from 40 tonnes of waste to landfill per month to zero. Wild Coast Sun’s waste management strategy includes the composting of organic waste on-site, recycling through approved recyclers, the donation and resale of reusable items, and the manufacturing of bricks from non-valuable non-recyclable waste. This inspirational story is one that we need the private sector at large to mimic. If corporate South Africa can achieve net zero, a huge volume of waste can be diverted from landfill. More importantly, these efforts would positively benefit the environment while creating jobs and uplifting communities. As Helen Keller famously said, “Alone, we can do so little; together, we can do so much.”
Going for net zero The Green Building Council South Africa (GBCSA) defines a net zero/net positive waste building as
Danielle NOVEMBER 2019
Reducing emissions, conserving natural resources Geocycle treats waste in a safe and environmentally-friendly way. This contributes to a cleaner environment. In 2017, it processed in excess of 14 million tons of waste materials and prevented 16.9 million tons of CO2 emissions. www.geocycle.com â€˘ 011 657 2390
For a zero-waste future
Meeting the global standard Common ground
Leon Grobbelaar, president, IWMSA
The year 2019 has come and gone. Although it was a very difficult time for the South African economy, the IWMSA has made leaps and bounds towards our strategic direction for the next 5 to 10 years.
s president of the IWMSA, I had the opportunity to attend the 2019 ISWA World Congress held in Bilboa, Spain, in October 2019. During this time, I also attended the General Assembly meeting where all national members, the ISWA secretariat as well as the ISWA board met to discuss the current situation of waste matters in the world. This was the first time ever that a South African attended the General Assembly meeting as a national representative. The president of the International Solid Waste Association (ISWA), Antonis Mavropoulos, provided the assembly with a comprehensive overview of the changes in the waste management sector, the serious marine litter issues and its struggles with the China ban. He then commented that the ISWA is ready for change. The ISWA is ready to relaunch with a new business model and rebrand to align with the Fourth Industrial Revolution, focusing on municipalities and decentralising autonomous regional chapters, of which Africa is one.
Sitting in the General Assembly and meeting new people from 72 different countries, I realised that the IWMSA is in the exact same position as the ISWA and its other national members. Although Europe and the rest of the world are more developed and sophisticated when it comes to waste management, the grassroots challenges to implement and register projects remain the same. Diversity in the board, when it comes to gender and race, is no different to what we experience in South Africa. Money and finances remain a challenge. They talked about a marketing and communication strategy and, again, this is the same challenge we face as the IWMSA. The ISWA has reconfirmed its partnerships with UNEP and signed a couple of partnerships with UN-Habitat during the conference, to develop sustainable development goals for waste-wise cities. This made me proud, as the IWMSA identified all these matters during our strategic sessions and it confirms that we are on the right track. We should not be afraid to sign partnerships, as this will expand the IWMSA’s horizons. Change is as good as a holiday. We should align ourselves with academic institutions and other associated partners. The matter of open dumps was once again discussed as was the lack of real attention paid to the situations of these facilities. In the past year, the recorded number of incidents of people that died on open dumps was 26 times higher than the number of people who died during the 9/11 tragedy, yet this does not even make the news. The ISWA is on a massive drive to make regulators and municipalities aware not only of the dangers involved with people living on the sites but also of the massive contribution these facilities have to the depletion of our ozone layer.
Local going on global I have no doubt that our national membership with the ISWA was the right decision and we must,
therefore, challenge our members to get involved by registering with the different working groups in order to learn from the rest of the world. We, as South Africans, have a lot to offer and should not be afraid to raise our voices when it comes to protecting our environment. As South Africa, we should take hands and tender to host the 2024 ISWA World Congress in South Africa and our MoU with the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries will offer us that opportunity. I have no doubt that the partnership will grow in stature. As a start, the IWMSA once again participated in the annual Waste Khoro, which was held in Kimberley during September. I am extremely excited about what we can achieve and, as a member of the ISWA, there is no reason to repeat the mistakes made by the developed countries, but rather learn from them.
IWMSA news I would like to thank you all for participating in our national survey this year and in guiding the IWMSA into a new direction from 2020 and beyond. We are motivated and enthusiastic about the future. Noting all of the above and after many months of intense workshops and strategic sessions, I am very proud and excited to announce that the IWMSA will be hosting an afternoon event in Gauteng during mid-January 2020, where we will be launching our new logo and branding, smartphone application for events, as well as the theme for WasteCon 2020. We will also be launching the KZN Waste Awards, as well as the Central Branch Waste Awards. I simply cannot believe that we are only weeks away from Christmas and I would, therefore, like to take this opportunity to wish all of our members and their families a happy festive season. Be safe and let us tackle 2020 with renewed energy.
Patron members of the IWMSA
cover story | BiobiN
In signing the Sustainable Development Goals, South Africa has committed to halving food waste by 2030. BiobiN™, a new waste management system launched in South Africa, offers an easy solution for diverting food and organic waste from landfill.
Innovative solution diverts food and organic waste from landfill
outh Africa produces around 10 million tonnes of food waste per year, around 90% of which is discarded at landfill. BiobiN offers a clean and simple solution to managing food and organic waste that would otherwise end up in landfill. The unique and innovative waste management system safely removes hazardous and odourous elements from organic waste material, while recycling the waste into a safe, environmentally friendly and rich organic compost.
“By having a BiobiN on your premises you are not only able to produce high-quality compost, but you also support a solution that seeks to alleviate the pressure on landfill sites due to the biodegradation and composting of organic waste,” says Brian Küsel of BiobiN South Africa.
Composting is the solution BiobiN is a containment vessel used for food and organic material, where it starts the process to produce high-grade compost. The importance of compost cannot be underestimated, as it adds
BiobiN can be used in many different sectors, including: Hotels | Resorts | Restaurants | Education facilities Healthcare facilities | Food manufacturers | Primary producers Animal, wildlife and veterinary facilities 6
carbon to the soil, resulting in reduced water usage and improved yields, which is vital in a country with limited water supply. The vessel has been designed with on-site waste management in mind and seeks to provide an easy and innovative solution for businesses and operations like corporate offices, food outlets, supermarkets, hotels, chicken producers and any operation that produces a lot of food and organic waste and is looking to reduce their waste footprint. “There is a growing need for an organic waste solution such as BiobiN. Food and organic waste in landfill sites rapidly break down to produce methane, an atmospheric pollutant that is 22 times more potent than carbon dioxide,” says Küsel. The team at BiobiN has recognised that organic waste should be seen as a resource that, when captured and processed correctly, will eventually produce a high-quality soil conditioning product.
cover story | BiobiN
1 tonne of food in a BiobiN is one car’s yearly impact removed from the environment
To add to the growing need to divert organic waste from landfill, in 2019, the Western Cape Department of Environmental Affairs announced a 100% ban on organic waste to landfill by 2027, with a 50% commitment by 2022. Earlier in the year, National Treasury implemented South Africa’s first carbon tax bill – imposing a carbon tax for carbon emitting activities. “With growing pressure from government, the corporate landscape needs to quickly adapt their waste management practices,” says Küsel. “This is also a great opportunity for corporates to show their commitment to reducing their contribution to global warming. A well-implemented recycling system, along with a BiobiN on the premises, is a direct display of a well-thought-out corporate social and environmental responsibility initiative.”
Why the BiobiN? Having successfully been launched and piloted in Australia 20 years ago and widely adopted as a green alternative waste disposal solution around the world, BiobiN is now available in South Africa. BiobiN operates on a rental model, which includes trained operating agents on-site, management of the unit, waste reporting and maintenance. As BiobiN has no moving parts, the safety of operators is not compromised. The BiobiN has also been carefully designed to reduce odours, flies and rodents, using a patented aeration system that initiates the composting process of organic material, reducing odours, bacteria and other pathogens. The vessel is sealed to ensure no contamination of surrounding areas and the system kills bacterial pathogens like salmonella, E. coli, avian flu, Newcastle disease and listeria without the use of chemicals or microbes that would have been necessary with other in-vessel composting systems. “This makes it the easiest and most cost-effective on-site food and organic waste management system. It is a clean and simple solution to managing food and organic waste in a way that benefits the environment,” concludes Küsel.
For further information, visit www.biobin.co.za
How the BiobiN™ works
The BiobiN uses forcefully inducted air to start the composting process of wet and organic waste
The food and wet waste are thoroughly mixed with carbon (woodchips and/or sawdust), and composting commences using the patented biofilter process
The condenser removes excess moisture from the system and the biofilter removes the odours
SUSTAINABILITY NEWS FROM AROUND THE WORLD Ford recycles 1.2 billion plastic bottles every year Ford Motor Company is playing a major role in promoting environmentally friendly auto parts by using recycled plastic bottles. The company uses recycled plastic bottles to manufacture underbody shields on all its cars and SUVs. Using recycled plastics on vehicle parts not only helps to reduce the amount of plastic that ends up in landfills but, due to its light weight, recycled plastic is ideal for the manufacture of underbody shields, engine undershields and front and rear wheel-arch liners, which can help improve vehicle aerodynamics, impacting on fuel efficiency. “The underbody shield is a large part, and for a part that big, if we use solid plastic it would likely weigh three times as much,” says Thomas Sweder, design engineer, Ford Motor Company.
“We look for the best materials to work with to make our parts and, in this case, we are also creating many environmental benefits.” Ford uses about 1.2 billion recycled plastic bottles per year, which amounts to roughly 250 bottles per vehicle on average.
How it works Plastic bottles are collected from recycling bins and shredded into small pieces. The result is usually sold to suppliers, who turn it into a fibre by melting the bottle and extruding it. Those fibres are mixed together with other types of fibre in a textile process and used to make a sheet of material that can be used to fabricate the automotive parts. In South Africa, Ford has implemented comprehensive recycling
Ford uses 1.2 billion recycled plastic bottles per year for vehicle parts
programmes at its local plants, which have resulted in a significant reduction in the amount of waste that ends up in landfills. Ford’s use of recycled plastics dates back to the 1990s and 100% of all shipments going to or from customers will be carbon neutral by 2020.
Most common types of beach litter are all plastic Volunteers from over 120 countries collected 10.6 million kilograms of trash during the annual International Coastal Cleanup. According to Ocean Conservancy’s 2018 report, the most common beach litter is all plastic, with cigarette butts – which contain plastic filters – topping the list, with approximately 5.7 million collected. Plastic cutlery, including spoons, knives and forks, was also among the top 10 items retrieved as part of annual beach clean-ups. The year 2017 was the first in which all top 10 most commonly found items during the International Coastal Cleanup were made of plastic, and unfortunately the trend continued into 2018.
Food wrappers that include candy, chips, etc. came in second place, with a little over 3.7 million collected. Plastic straws and stirrers were third, with just under 3.6 million collected. Cigarette butts have remained the number one item for many years. “They win the race every year,” says George Leonard, chief scientist at Ocean Conservancy. “If you run down the rest of the top 10 list, what strikes me is that the vast majority are not recyclable. To the extent we talk about recycling as a solution to ocean plastic problems, it would have to get to 50% or 90%, which is a huge lift and gets complicated very quickly,” he says. More than 10.6 million kilograms of trash was collected on beaches in more than 120
The vast majority of plastic waste found on beaches is not recyclable
nations and nearly a million separate items were catalogued, creating a snapshot of nearly everything humans make and use. The clean-up collection included more than 69 000 toys, more than 16 000 appliances, a chandelier, an artificial Christmas tree, a garage door, and a cash register. Top 10 list of litter collected during International Coastal Cleanup
Cigarette butts (that contain plastic filters)
5 716 331
3 728 712
Plastic straws and stirrers
3 668 871
1 968 065
Plastic beverage bottles
1 754 908
Plastic bottle caps
1 390 232
Plastic grocery bags
Other plastic bags
10 Plastic cups, plates
Africa’s first eco-friendly road completed Africa’s first eco-friendly road incorporating waste plastic has been completed at Kouga Municipality in the Eastern Cape. The 300 m pilot stretch of Woltemade Street in Jeffreys Bay has been relayered with plasticinfused asphalt. The road now includes about 700 kg of recycled waste plastic. A further section of Koraal Street is also expected to be relayered. This groundbreaking initiative began in March 2019 after Executive Mayor Horatio Hendricks agreed to the project and Scottish manufacturer MacRebur and Port Elizabeth-based companies SP Excel and Scribante came on board. The plastic product used in the premix was developed by MacRebur, which turns plastic waste into pellets that replace a significant part of the bitumen. Hendricks said this new approach to roadbuilding reduced the amount
Africa’s first plastic road has been completed in Kouga Municipality
of bitumen required for the asphalt mix. “The plastic was turned into pellets using a special formula and then added to the asphalt mix used for the top layer of the road. The result is a road that is more durable but also friendlier to the environment. “Bitumen is a fossil fuel and its extraction and use accelerate climate change. The plastic
pellets replace a portion of the bitumen, thereby minimising harm to the atmosphere,” he said. Some 1.5 tonnes of plastic, the equivalent of 1.8 million single-use bags, were used in just 1 km of road. “That means we would have rid the planet of 3 million plastic bags upon completion of both streets,” said Hendricks. After the completion of the second phase, the focus will shift towards convincing other municipalities and provinces to make use of the technology, which could then lead to a local plant to process the waste plastic. “MacRebur plans on establishing a manufacturing plant in South Africa. We would like to see the plant being built in Kouga. Not only will this create much-needed jobs, but it will also be an opportunity for our communities to make money by collecting and selling waste plastic,” he concluded.
New Climate Investment Platform to help with climate ambitions A new global platform has been developed to increase the flow of capital in developing countries to meet climate ambitions. The Climate Investment Platform (CIP) is an inclusive partnership welcoming all stakeholders from governments and international organisations to the private sector to scale up climate action and translate ambitious national climate targets into concrete investments on the ground. With energy accounting for two-thirds of total greenhouse gas emissions, the platform’s first service line is dedicated to the global transition to clean energy. Other service lines, such as adaptation, land use, cities and infrastructure will be launched in the first quarter of 2020. By streamlining support to developing countries, the platform aims to accelerate action and advance climate investment in developing countries. The service offered by the CIP covers four key building blocks along the climate finance value chain:
• supporting governments to specify ambitious energy targets and scale up their nationally determined contributions • establishing well-designed, -implemented and -enforced clean energy policies and regulations • financial de-risking of energy projects • providing a marketplace to connect clean energy investors and project sponsors. Yannick Glemarec, executive director, Green Climate Fund, says the CIP is a crucial initiative that will simplify access to climate finance. “It will catalyse investment for mitigation and adaptation in developing countries, supporting those most in need of climate action.” Rachel Kyte, CEO and special representative of the UN Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL), adds, “The CIP will help bridge the gap between supply and demand to
The new Climate Investment Platform aims to help developing countries meet climate targets
accelerate capital and scale up climate-resilient investments, allowing countries to raise their climate targets and develop policy environments that allow investment to flow.” The Green Climate Fund is a global fund set up by the 194 countries who are parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. NOVEMBER 2019
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The death of landfill?
The recent Landfill 2019 Conference saw experts from across the landfill and alternative waste treatment industries come together to ponder an important question: will landfills be part of our long-term future and, if so, how? By Danielle Petterson
osted by IWMSA Western Cape, LaWTIG and Gigsa, the Landfill 2019 Conference & Exhibition – themed ‘The death of landfill?’ – was held in November to examine the current state of our landfills and their role in our long-term waste management future. In his keynote address, geosynthetic, environmental containment and waste disposal expert Boyd Ramsey noted that despite a growing need for sustainability, landfills, while not sustainable, are a necessity.
However, it is vitally important that we stop disposing of materials that still have value or can possibly be reused, even if it is difficult. “The cost of throwing something away is not included in the cost of that thing, and that is why capitalism doesn’t work for waste disposal,” he stressed.
Landfills in SA Speaking on a panel, Leon Grobbelaar, president, IWMSA, stated that South Africa will likely continue to make use of
Keynote speaker Boyd Ramsey
landfills for at least the next 20 years. Professor Linda Godfrey, principal scientist, CSIR, concurred, but questioned instead what percentage of our waste should continue to go to landfill. “All of the evidence I see suggests that there is nothing in place that would change the status quo, so, unfortunately, despite what it says in our policy, I think we will continue to see dump sites being operated,” she said.
L to R: Margot Ladouce, City of Cape Town; Jan Palm, JPCE; Leon Grobbelaar, IWMSA; and Professor Linda Godfrey, CSIR
L a n d f i ll 2 0 1 9 of general waste. There is also currently a global constraint on getting markets to take up certain recyclables such as paper. “It’s a crisis,” she said.
Public and private
The consensus was that, although landfills are here to stay, we need to move away from the prevalent uncontrolled dumps that populate South Africa to engineered landfill sites. Thereafter, consideration can be given as to how to phase out landfills. Unfortunately, Jan Palm, director, JPCE, says municipalities are bogged down by the costs of landfilling. An engineered landfill with a Class B liner that handles 3 000 to 4 000 tonnes per month will have a total cost of R250 to R300 per tonne. When it comes to alternative waste treatment methods, only building rubble crushing is less expensive than landfilling, with a net cost of around R90 per tonne. Composting has a net cost of roughly R800 to R900 per tonne, while recycling source-separated materials costs about R1 100 to R1 300 per tonne. “The problem is that the alternatives are too expensive because our landfilling is too cheap,” said Palm. Margot Ladouce, manager: Disposal Solid Waste, City of Cape Town, agreed with Palm’s sentiments, stating that recycling costs the City around three times more than the disposal
Godfrey argued for a national discussion to determine where the sector is headed, so that everyone can work towards the same goals. “We need an answer on what the role of local government should be in the management of waste. They are the gatekeepers to this waste and while they are locked into this current approach of collect, transport and dump, it is making it incredibly difficult for the private sector to grow and to unlock job opportunities,” she said. “We need to have a healthy discussion on what the role of local government should be.” Godfrey believes municipalities should focus on residual waste and allow the private sector to handle the rest. Ladouce agreed that it would be beneficial for certain waste streams not to be managed by municipalities and pointed to public-private partnerships (PPPs) as a potential solution. The City of Cape Town has worked on three PPPs, which it is now trying to fast-track, and has faced many challenges. Ladouce believes there will need to be a mix of solutions to address waste management and the PPP processes will assist in this regard. However, Grobbelaar pointed out that there are many challenges to the PPP process. He has been working on a PPP for the Garden Route District Municipality, which started in 2011 and is still not finalised. The process, he argued, needs to be simplified and streamlined in order to make PPPs more feasible. Godfrey maintained that the sector has the power to mobilise discussions with local and national government. “The question is: what do we need to do as a country and put in
place to change the current discussion and the status quo?”
Celebrating wins Although South Africa faces challenges, many countries offer success stories from which to learn. Ramsey highlighted China’s ‘National Sword’ policy, which he argued is the biggest thing to happen to recycling in the last few years. The result of severely declining groundwater quality, the policy made headlines when it came into effect in 2018. Not only has the policy banned imports of 24 types of waste and set a tougher standard for contamination levels in others, it has also banned the import of most plastics and other materials headed for China’s recycling processors, which previously handled nearly half of the world’s recyclable waste. The policy was implemented concurrently with the roll-out of recycling bins across the country. During this time, China’s president, Xi Jinping, noted that recycling is an important indicator of a society’s level of civilisation. Ramsey concurred, stating, “The more you recycle, the more civilised you are and the better chance your society has at living longer.” Ramsey went on the applaud companies that have adopted a circular economy approach. One such company is BMW, which has begun designing its cars to be recycled. In this way, around 90% of materials can be recycled per vehicle. Closer to home, geotextiles and geosynthetic supplier Kaytech has been manufacturing geotextiles from recycled plastic bottles. Some countries have also begun installing solar panels on closed landfill sites. Ramsey stressed that waste is a global issue and must be managed as such. “We should be thinking in terms of hundreds and thousands and millions of years. It’s a small planet but it’s all we’ve got. We’re not taking care of it and we need to.”
The consensus was that, although landfills are here to stay, we need to move away from the prevalent uncontrolled dumps that populate South Africa to engineered landfill sites NOVEMBER 2019
L a n d f i ll 2 0 1 9
South Africa lags key developed countries by approximately 20 to 30 years in the field of sustainable waste management practices. While this presents environmental threats, it also creates exciting opportunities to reverse the present situation and establish a much-needed secondary resource economy. By Alastair Currie
The need for a new approach
Professor Linda Godfrey, principal scientist, CSIR
keynote speaker at Landfill 2019, Professor Linda Godfrey – principal scientist at the CSIR and extraordinary associate professor at North-West University – delivered a presentation entitled ‘Why the diversion of waste from landfill requires improved landfill management’. This highlighted the intrinsic value of domestic solid waste and provided practical solutions for capitalising on the worth of viable materials discarded annually, which runs into billions of rand. Alongside this is the urgent need to tackle current landfill management practices. These include the need for transitioning current uncontrolled and controlled dumpsites to engineered landfills; improved operation of disposal sites, including ensuring that incoming
waste is compacted and covered correctly; and greater compliance with licence conditions. Improved education and awareness are also required to address the often intentional burning of waste, which presents a major environmental impact. Professionally engineered airspace utilisation must focus on containing non-productive waste, while creating separate solutions for collecting and sending back productive materials for reuse, recycling and recovery. The process requires greater private sector involvement in the form of public and private sector partnerships to enable the diversion and commercialisation of reusable waste long before it reaches any landfill site. However, the starting point is to see to it that every landfill is designed and built to ensure that
their composite geosynthetic lining systems are functional and effective. Every landfill must also have a comprehensive closure plan in place. “The Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries went through a process some four years ago to have all landfill sites licensed for operation or closure,” said Godfrey. “However, are
“We need to introduce incentives that make reuse, recycling and recovery attractive and select technologies that make it commercially viable to transition away from landfills.”
L a n d f i ll 2 0 1 9 the compliance conditions understood and are we now monitoring compliance against these licence conditions? We need to work collectively to ensure that this happens.”
Profitable waste streams From a commercial standpoint alone, Godfrey pointed out that by targeting just three main municipal solid waste streams, some 60% to 70% of waste (by mass) could be diverted from landfill towards value recovery, in the process creating much-needed jobs. These streams comprise construction and demolition waste, organic waste, and paper and packaging waste. Currently, informal waste reclaimers are filling a major recycling gap by collecting and introducing recyclables into the South African value chain, but a more coherent strategy needs to be implemented to integrate and uplift this sector on a broader scale. Examples include the widespread introduction of separation at source, the development of materials recovery facilities, greater support for SMMEs, and Department of Trade and Industry support for secondary manufacturing – ensuring much needed end-use markets. One of the pressing concerns raised by the African Reclaimers Association is the need for funding support and access to equipment and facilities. But how far have we come in moving up the waste hierarchy in terms of current legislation? Sadly, we still predominantly collect, transport and dump. According to the last official government statistics (2011), as much as 90% of our waste is still sent to landfill. That equates to at least R17 billion worth of resources being thrown away in a hole in the ground annually, despite the waste hierarchy being embedded in our waste policy. “While there’s always an opportunity to go back and mine these disposal sites at a later stage, that doesn’t address the immediate socio-economic and environmental priorities,” said Godfrey. “The cost of remining a landfill site is very expensive. And where this does occur in Europe, for example, the motivation is often the value of the land itself for future developments.”
Leapfrogging the gap Can developing countries leapfrog from uncontrolled
dumping to a circular economy without going the route of destructive technologies, such as incineration, adopted by developed nations? Some international experts believe not. “However, I believe it is possible, as we’ve been implementing aspects of a circular approach for decades now – granted, driven more by need than by design,” Godfrey continued. “We can drop technologies into South Africa tomorrow, with some level of localisation where required, using available proven technologies,” she asserted. “We don’t need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to technology uptake. With adequate PPP funding, the potential will be far greater in terms of coordination and execution.” The main issues seem to be a lack of alignment when it comes to agreeing on which technologies are most appropriate for South Africa, the lack of political will to make the transition, and a lack of investment in alternatives. Godfrey recommended focusing on simple strategies that yield immediate returns, which comes back to the three main municipal waste streams mentioned earlier. By diverting these three waste streams, only 20% to 30% residual waste is left. This waste “can instead be disposed of at fewer, regional engineered landfill facilities that are correctly designed, constructed, operated and monitored,” said Godfrey.
Are SA’s landfills too cheap? Can it be accomplished right now? The answer is yes. “A question I often put to municipal officials is, ‘What would you do if you woke up tomorrow and didn’t have a landfill?’” said Godfrey. “The responses typically include statements like ‘We’d implement separation at source; we’d compost our organics; we’d drive greater recycling.’ My response then is, ‘Why aren’t you doing it already?’” Clearly stated, it is too easy to collect and dump our waste and it’s ostensibly cheaper… or is it? Municipalities sometimes state that alternatives like the composting of organic waste are too
costly. Relative to current landfilling, yes, but consider the downstream commercial benefits for farming communities. The more direct question to ask municipalities is what their airspace is worth to them. The responses are certainly revealing, ranging from R100 to R600 per tonne, as there is no standard tariff scale. Simply put, South African airspace is still cheap, relative to alternative technologies, and sometimes free in the case of municipal dump sites that don’t provide weighbridge assessment and charging. In the EU, the cost per tonne easily exceeds R1 000 in many countries, plus some impose an additional tax to discourage landfill disposal. In the UK, gate fees are dependent on the downstream process technology, with fees increasing from composting to anaerobic digestion, to landfilling. “South Africa still has a way to go in these respects,” stated Godfrey. “One of our key challenges is our price-sensitive approach. In response, we must transition to engineered landfills, as this serves twin purposes: to reduce the environmental impacts of our current dumpsites, and to increase the capex and opex costs of landfill sites, which will automatically increase our disposal costs, making alternative waste treatment technologies more competitive. “Right now, landfilling remains South Africa’s predominant technology choice and, for this reason, the country’s secondary resources economy is not growing. That’s not sustainable on all fronts and requires urgent public and private sector engagement to map the way forward,” she added. “The most recent Greenhouse Gas Inventory for South Africa showed that the waste sector was the second largest contributor to total methane emissions in 2010, contributing 37.2% of total methane. By applying our collective wills and minds, we can mitigate this threat while unlocking a circular vision that creates new jobs and a sustainable future that preserves our country,” Godfrey concluded.
L a n d f i ll 2 0 1 9 AKS Lining Systems is also ISO 9001:2015 certified, ensuring that management system and quality procedures are maintained and reviewed at the highest possible levels. These systems and procedures follow right through from resin suppliers, shipping and logistics, to finished product, testing and delivery.
The latest technology
Global lining solutions Designed specifically for use in chemically aggressive environments, the range of Geoliner products supplied by AKS Lining Systems are ideal for landfill applications.
ince its inception in 2002, AKS Lining Systems has grown to become a competitive global producer of thermoplastic lining products. Its products are exported to more than 30 countries worldwide, where they are used in diverse applications such as mining, environmental conservation, water treatment and general infrastructure. Situated in Cape Town, AKS Lining Systems also offers strong support to the local South African and SADC regions.
Ideal landfill solution According to Peter Hardie, Sales Manager: Technical and International, AKS Lining Systems, the company’s Geoliner range of products is manufactured from HDPE or LLDPE resins, which are considered chemically inert. This makes them the ideal choice as the primary and secondary lining systems in landfill sites. “The resins that we use are imported and tried and tested to comply with the requirements of GRIGM13 and GRI-GM17, along with our own SANS 1526 requirements,” he says.
AKS Lining Systems uses state-of-the-art Europeanmanufactured extrusion lines. These large 7m wide extruders are designed to utilise the latest technology and operate continuously and faultlessly. “We can achieve extrusion accuracies close to 5%, while the current market trend is within a 10% range,” says Hardie. The Geoliner range is manufactured using the Flat-Die Extrusion process, enabling the company to offer a wide range of products from standard smooth liners to more specialised liner products, such as textured with a ≥0.65mm asperity, a Mega-Textured liner with ≥1.1mm asperity, and in combinations of these. AKS Lining Systems also utilises Low-CarbonEmission Technology to power its plants. The company has installed a 500kW solar facility at its Cape Town-based production facility, with plans to upgrade this to 1MW over the next two years. The company also makes use of Equipment Cooling Facilities that utilise non-potable groundwater.
Guaranteed quality “Our logistical team ensures expert handling and loading of trucks and containers, along with all the required export documentation. For identification, tracking and traceability, all Geoliner rolls are individually labelled and numbered. In addition to this, during the manufacturing process, the liner is in-line marked with roll number and linear metre increments, making on-site quality control effortless,” explains Hardie. AKS Lining Systems has an open-door policy, allowing customers to inspect and review their product during manufacturing and testing, giving them peace of mind when materials start arriving on their sites.
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Food waste composting:
the ideal on-site solution As waste becomes increasingly expensive to move and companies commit to zero-waste-to-landfill strategies, composting presents an effective option for the on-site management of organic waste.
he Earth Cycler in-vessel composting machine offers an easy and costeffective means of on-site food waste management. “With its built-in simplicity, the Earth Cycler offers environmentally responsible companies a better way to manage their waste,” says Gavin Heron, director, Earth Probiotic Recycling Solutions. The machine is already in use at several of South Africa’s big corporates – including Philip Morris International, Discovery, FNB and Standard Bank – as well as at Kusile Power Station. Earth Cycler units are also operating in Botswana, Mozambique and Zambia.
Simple yet effective The Earth Cycler handles up to 5 000 kg of food waste per month, including a carbon component of woodchips, sawdust, waste cardboard/ paper, etc. Able to handle all types of food waste, including both cooked and raw protein, it eliminates the need for separation of food types. The closed flow-through system also eliminates odours, vermin and fly infestations, and only requires venting if housed in an enclosed area. The unit measures input and output weights, as well as compost temperature; after loading food waste, the system is pre-programmed to
guide operators on exactly how much carbon to add. Compliant with ISO safety standards, the machine is also designed to shut off when opened, ensuring operator safety. Strong and lightweight, the vessel has a very small footprint and can be easily moved. The Earth Cycler has a flexible timing schedule to fit with customers’ own operating schedules. To ensure rapid composting without the need to provide additional heat, the Earth Cycler is insulated to ensure it retains heat, allowing for a low energy consumption of less than 100 kWh per month. The Earth Cycler comes standard with a data connection and all functions are controlled through a touch pad on the composter or via a mobile phone. The data link enables the Earth Cycler to be remotely managed and receive overthe-air software updates as well as feed data to online dashboards. “Clients have ownership of their data and can monitor their carbon footprint
saving and the performance of the machine,” says Heron. Optional extras include solar power, a macerator and a bin lifter.
Home-grown solution The Earth Cycler is manufactured in South Africa as part of Earth Probiotic’s commitment to growing the local manufacturing sector and supporting existing skills in the local economy. The system also uses microbes indigenous to South Africa. Furthermore, the machine is built using standard, readily available parts to facilitate easy repairs and servicing. “The Earth Cycler is designed to be a reliable and cost-effective waste management system that meets our commitment to reducing environmental impact and supporting local industries. With on-site food waste composting and treatment, our clients are dramatically reducing the volume of food waste going to landfills and improving their carbon footprint,” concludes Heron.
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As large producers of food waste find themselves faced with new regulations that prohibit disposal at landfill, it becomes important to consider a more circular approach to waste management.
Food waste producers hit by
s of August this year, the Waste Classification and Management Regulations introduced far stricter prohibitions on the disposal of materials in a bid to reduce contamination of the environment from landfill sites. These new prohibitions will have especially wide-ranging consequences for producers of wet waste, which includes organic and biodegradable waste. The aim is to reduce the amount of waste diverted to landfill without first being treated or repurposed. Discarded foodstuffs and ingredients from restaurants fall into the category of wet waste that can no longer simply be dumped in a bin. “The extent of the impact from the new prohibitions becomes apparent when one
considers that even restaurants might need to reconsider how they manage the waste from their operations,” says Johan van den Berg, managing director, Averda South Africa.
Classifying waste The Waste Classification and Management Regulations that came into effect in August are an addendum to the National Environmental Management: Waste Act (No. 59 of 2008). The intention is to more clearly define how certain materials are classified, and then how materials need to be treated or disposed of based on those classifications. Materials classified as wet waste in the new regulations include: food, oils and fats for cooking; paint; wet building site waste; hazardous materials; wet factory waste; flowers; and vehicle oils.
Naturally, hazardous wet waste requires special care and treatment to comply with the regulations. Although food waste is not considered hazardous, the new regulations are very clear that if waste can seep into the ground, it must be treated first to prevent possible contamination of the environment. This extends from the initial classification of the waste type, which determines the extent of the treatment required before it can be stored in a landfill. Depending on this classification, wet waste is then required to be stored in a particular class of landfill, which specifies the measures needed to prevent contamination of the surrounding environment. “The new prohibitions certainly simplify the process of correctly identifying waste and how it should be treated or disposed of. That also
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means that businesses cannot say they were unaware that their waste is subject to these new guidelines,” says Van den Berg. He says the fairly broad classification of materials that are harmful, but not necessarily hazardous, is likely to be a challenge for businesses that may not previously have had to take special care in the disposal of their waste. “Companies will have to adjust to a new era in which they will have to take far greater responsibility for how their waste is handled. This is not a passing fad, and the demand for specialised waste management services is only going to increase.”
A greener approach The new regulations also open up the opportunity to move toward a circular economy and support government’s efforts to reduce food waste to landfill, as well as carbon reduction strategies. Research shows that each tonne of food equates to almost 4.14 tCO2e and that 4.3% of South Africa’s greenhouse gas emissions are from the disposal of organic waste. “This indicates not only a high emissions rate, but also provides grounds to argue that food waste is an important contributor to climate change – a contributor that can, and should, be avoided,” says Jason McNeil, CEO, Interwaste.
Energy wasted producing food that is not eaten could power Johannesburg for 16 weeks
“Companies will have to adjust to a new era in which they will have to take far greater responsibility for how their waste is handled.” “If we consider the aspects that make up the circular economy – a means to reduce the impact of waste on the global climate, then the effective management of food waste through the removal of unnecessary excess materials, energy losses and related carbon emissions, allowing the food waste to be ‘fed’ back into the cycle – we enable the reutilisation of a resource to further contribute to the fight for real climate change,” he continues.
Reducing food waste The South African government has committed to halving the country’s food waste by 2030, in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals. McNeil believes the answer lies in effective waste management. Corporate South Africa has a fundamental role to play in reducing
the food waste numbers. Minimising wastage and overproduction remain critical but more so, finding ways to reduce and repurpose food waste that are safe and make financial sense can create opportunities in other economic areas too. In fact, he argues that there is a profound, positive ripple effect and impact of sound food waste management on the country. It provides the opportunity to not only recover foods for redistribution to those in need but also to repurpose food waste through composting, anaerobic digestion and bioremediation. “The amount of energy wasted each year in South Africa producing food that is not consumed equates to the amount of power required by the City of Johannesburg for roughly 16 weeks. Considering the numbers, there is no doubt that innovative solutions such as anaerobic digestion, which extracts energy from composting food waste and creates a source of power, offer a very viable solution to repurposing food waste for socio-economic gain,” McNeil adds. Encouragingly, he reports seeing a serious shift in this space, with many companies taking a proactive and committed stance to both reducing and repurposing their food waste, not just for commercial value, but also out of socioeconomic obligation.
Water used to produce food that is wasted could fill over 600 000 Olympic swimming pools annually
SA wastes 10 million tonnes of food every year
SA has committed to halving food waste by 2030
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Standards for the composting of organic waste The development of the 2011 National Waste Management Strategy (NWMS) was an important milestone in facilitating the implementation of the National Environmental Management: Waste Act (NEMWA; No. 59 of 2008). The NWMS promotes composting as one of the approaches towards achieving the objectives of the waste management hierarchy. By Nombulelo Manyana
he National Organic Waste Composting Strategy (NOWCS) was initiated by the renamed Department of Environment, Forestr y and Fisheries with the aim to promote the diversion of organic waste from landfill sites for composting and soil beneficiation. South Africa is running low on landfill space and many initiatives have been launched to divert waste from landfills, in order to conserve the remaining space. However, organic waste that should be composted still ends up in landfills. According to studies done by the CSIR, an estimated 27% of all food is wasted. The audit also showed that 40% of all waste that ends up in South African landfills is organic and biodegradable, and it estimates that food waste costs South Africa R10 billion every year. Due to this, the Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries published the Draft National Norms and Standards for Organic Waste Composting under NEMWA and the NWMS. These norms and standards outline a national approach to controlling the composting of organic waste at any facility, ensuring that best practice is always followed. However, the norms and standards are only applicable to compostable organic waste and to organic composting facilities with the capacity to process more than 10 tonnes daily.
The purpose of these norms is to: • provide a national uniform approach relating to controlling the composting of organic waste at a facility that falls within the threshold in order to prevent or minimise potential negative impacts on the bio-physical and socioeconomic environment • ensure the best practicable environmental option in the composting of organic waste.
earth such as cold cuts, browned meats, and even bones. • Paper products: Paper towels, cardboard and writing paper are all considered to be biodegradable and safe for the environment once they are broken down. • Human waste: Manure, sewage and even waste from animal slaughter are all forms of biodegradable waste materials.
What is classified as organic waste?
Application for composting facilities
Organic waste is biodegradable material that comes from either plant or animal. Organic waste is usually broken down by other organisms over time and may also be referred to as wet waste. Most of the time, it is made up of vegetable and fruit debris, paper, bones, and human waste, which quickly disintegrate. Some typical organic waste categories include: • Garden waste: This can be just about anything that comes directly from your garden, such as plants, flowers, grass clippings, weeds and leaves. • Kitchen debris: This includes egg shells and vegetable and fruit peels like orange rinds, apple skins, tomatoes and cucumber skins. • Cooked foods: Leftovers and meats that will eventually shrivel up and recede into the
According to the norms and standards document, all organic waste composting facilities are required to comply with the national norms and standards, and an application must be made to establish an organic waste composting facility. Any application to establish an organic waste composting facility must be: 1. Submitted to the relevant provincial authority. 2. Then a process of approving of the design plan, waste types to be composted and operational processes to be used, and a decommissioning plan must be undertaken before commencing with any composting activity. 3. An environmental management plan, compiled by the facility owner or environmental consultant, must clearly describe the composting processes and measures to be put in place to protect the environment.
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4. B efore operating a composting facility, a person must obtain permission to construct and operate a composting facility from the relevant local authority, if required in terms of the relevant municipal by-law. The facility may not be constructed in an environmentally sensitive area such as a floodplain, water resource, wetland or any other conservation/protected area. The area must be accessible to emergency response personnel and equipment, and the site must be fenced off and secured to prevent unauthorised entry.
How should organic waste be treated? First, these norms and standards do not replace any other relevant requirements stipulated in terms of other legislation, unless the requirements in terms of the other legislation are less stringent than these ones.
The proposed requirements of how waste should be treated are as follows: 1. Minimisation of airborne emissions and fire management Organics that are being processed must always be kept reasonably moist (at least 25% (m/m) moisture content) to minimise the emissions of airborne pathogens. Emissions of methane in aerobic processes must be controlled by keeping the organics being processed adequately aerated. A fire management plan or strategy must be in place and contain, among other things, firefighting equipment and firebreaks.
According to studies done by the CSIR, an estimated 27% of all food is wasted
2. Management of waste generated at facility Any liquid and solid waste generated at the organic waste composting facility, must be stored in such a manner as to prevent water pollution and amenity impacts: • Waste must be sorted at source into various categories (recyclables and non-recyclables) and a documented procedure must be implemented to prevent any mixing of hazardous and general waste. • Liquid waste must be stored in leakresistant containers, which must be inspected weekly for the early detection of leaks. • The liquid waste containers must be of good structural integrity to ensure that they are unlikely to burst or leak in their ordinary use. • Waste that is spilled or carried by wind during operation, handling or storage must be contained. • Hazardous waste must be stored in covered containers that are only opened when waste is added or emptied. • Organic waste composting facilities must register with the Waste Information System in terms of the National Waste Information System Regulations.
3. Stockpiling of incoming and processed organics The quantities of incoming and processed organics must not exceed the design requirements of the storage and processing areas. Operational measures must be put in place to ensure that the storage times for organics are controlled to minimise emissions of offensive odours. Design and operational measures must minimise contamination of final products.
4. Controlling pests The composting facility must put in place measures to control pests and the facility operator must prevent weeds from multiplying at the premises and composting facilities that receive alien vegetation must ensure that seeds do not survive in the compost through seed germination testing.
5. Water pollution prevention The facility must be designed and operated in a way that surface water is prevented from mixing with organics received, processed and stored at the premises. All water that has entered the processing and storage areas, including the contaminated water, must be handled and treated as leachate.
6. Safe storage and disposal The design of the facility must include infrastructure to securely store all organics, contaminated products, waste and process residues that cannot be beneficially processed at the facility, until they can be lawfully disposed of at the facility or transferred to another facility.
Why the norms are important A third of food produced for human consumption is wasted globally – this comes to roughly 1.3 billion tonnes per year. Food waste has a triple negative effect: it impacts on food security, resources used in food production and distribution are wasted, and it impacts the environment throughout the supply chain. Through the setting of the norms and standards for organic waste composting, it is expected that the composting of organic waste will not only increase but also help contribute to the NWMS’s target for diverting recyclables from landfill sites for reuse, recycling or recovery. NOVEMBER 2019
w e t Was t e
South Africa generates huge volumes of food waste that could be diverted from landfill.
The climate change link
ood waste is the third largest contributor to global warming. When sent to landfill, it can produce large volumes of methane, which has been shown to be 84 times more harmful than CO2e emissions over a 20-year period. Bronwyn Jones, owner, Bokashi Bran, says that, based on conservative estimates, the hospitality industry generates more than 33 000 tonnes of food waste every month. Around 95% of this goes
to landfill, resulting in almost 21 000 tonnes of CO2e emissions. “If South Africa is going to reach the CO2e decrease targets that they signed in the Paris Agreement, food waste is an easy way to start,” she says.
Why bokashi? There are various disposal methods for food waste, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. Jones believes the bokashi
system, which converts food waste into compost, is by far the most environmentally friendly and sustainable solution. Bokashi, meaning ‘fermented organic matter’, is bran that has been infused with effective microorganisms. First developed in Japan, it is now used in 130 countries worldwide as an effective treatment to stop the putrefaction of food waste. Once treated with bokashi, all food waste – including meat and cooked food – is safe for composting. The system eliminates the bad smells associated with rotting organic waste, is eco-friendly and has been shown to eliminate the Listeria monocytogenes pathogen. “Government needs to start encouraging composting instead of making it difficult to start a compost site. If South Africa’s 14 million households were all composting, how much cheaper would our waste collection be?” queries Jones. Furthermore, if food waste is treated with bokashi, waste collection can take place far less frequently because the putrefaction process is halted. “It is important that we find solutions to get food waste out of landfills and reduce our contributions to global warming,” Jones concludes.
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The unanticipated impact of the liquid waste ban While environmentalists rejoiced at the ban of hazardous liquid waste being disposed of at landfill, generators of liquid waste, waste management companies and landfill sites have had to find environmentally sustainable and cost-effective solutions quickly, in order to abide by the new law.
he latest prohibitions on waste disposal to landfill in the National Environmental Management: Waste Act (No. 59 of 2008) regulations focus not only on hazardous waste with a calorific value >20 MJ/kg, but have taken the major step to include all types of hazardous liquid waste with a moisture value >40%. The ban on liquid waste being dumped at landfill sites, which came into effect on 23 August 2019, means that nearly one million tonnes of hazardous liquid waste produced in South Africa annually will now have to either be transported to a different waste management facility, pre-processed to produce alternative fuel resources (AFRs) and alternative raw materials (ARMs), or stabilised by binding the liquid waste with ash, lime and chemicals and converted into gel. According to Francois du Plessis, CEO, Almar Container Group, the reinforcement of the regulation, which was first tabled in Parliament in 2013, has brought about an increased demand for the bulk storage of liquid waste. “The demand for ISO tanks has increased since the announcement and we believe the reason for this could be twofold – the on-site storage time has increased while waste generators find solutions for the disposal of the waste, and recycling or converting the waste is costly, so companies are looking at where they can cut costs,’’ he explains.
A need for liquid waste storage Du Plessis says companies are starting to recognise that storage is an area where they can save money and this also impacts positively on transportation costs.
“In our experience, companies make use of 44 gallon drums or IBCs (immediate bulk containers), which involves substantial manpower to unload, fill, seal and load for transportation and, depending on the liquid being stored, are often single-use. “Generators are realising that ISO tank containers, known as ISOtainers, are a better solution because they can store 26 000 litres and the containers are stackable. With space, time and budget being a priority for generators, we have had to refocus our attention to meet this demand,” he says. “As we know, amendments in regulations have a ripple effect and often impact businesses unrelated to the industry to which they apply.”
Change already happening Geocycle South Africa, a subsidiary of Lafarge South Africa and a member of the international LafargeHolcim group, has been impacted by the new legislation. Geocycle and Lafarge are licensed by the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF) to operate facilities producing AFRs and ARMs for cement. Geocycle has been providing pre-processing services for the supply of various recycled, high-calorific-value materials, such as industrial oil sludge, to be used as fuel in the Lafarge cement kilns. Following the new legislation, Brent Mahoney, managing director of Geocycle South Africa, has seen an increase in hazardous liquid waste being directed to them to produce AFRs and ARMs, as opposed to going straight to landfill. “Generators are choosing bulk storage solutions in order to increase efficiencies when it comes to handling and storage of the liquid waste and to use a reusable versus single-use storage option,” he says.
The unexpected spin-off According to the DEFF’s Albie Modise, a key benefit of the liquid waste legislation is that the country’s groundwater reserves will receive protection from seeping hazardous liquids. Leachate from landfills is difficult to manage and treat, and has the potential to seep into groundwater pools. An unexpected environmental spin-off from the reinforcement of this legislation has been the increased demand for bulk liquid storage, which has led to a reduction in transportation and, in turn, a reduction in carbon emission. NOVEMBER 2019
E Q U IP M ENT
Conveyor mobility cOMPACT cRUSHERS improves throughput Bell Equipment has expanded its Finlay mobile crushing and screening range to include two conveyors – the TC-80 tracked conveyor and the TR-75 radial stacker.
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esigned to maximise downstream quality, Finlay’s conveyor systems add new levels of production flexibility and efficiency. “For example, the stockpile of a Finlay I-140 impactor needs to be cleared after 17 minutes of crushing, whereas the addition of a TC-80 tracked conveyor extends the clearing time to 7 hours and 13 minutes,” explains Paul Chappel, regional business manager, Finlay. “Studies have shown that by replacing a wheel loader with a conveyor, an operator can save up to 90% of his labour and fuel costs,” he continues. “Of course, less wheel loader activity has positive environmental spin-offs in terms of dust, noise and emissions, as well as on-site health and safety due to reduced traffic. Quality also benefits because the conveyor reduces the degradation found when product thunders down on to a stockpile or is damaged during handling by a wheel loader.” Tyron Ravencroft, product manager: Finlay, Bell Equipment, says Bell selected the TC-80 and TR-75 after conducting thorough market research in conjunction with Finlay’s conveyor specialists.
Pinless deployment Both units feature pinless deployment, meaning that the conveyor is held in place using hydraulic power rather than pins. The
set-up is quicker and the operating height and angle are adjustable. Only one person is needed and safety is increased due to less nip risk. “These conveyors both have external conveyor belt adjustment, as well as a hydraulic rear fold for a smaller footprint when transporting,” Ravencroft explains. “In addition, the TC-80 has low-level greasing and the TR-75 has a discharge head drum bearing automatic greasing cartridge.” The TC-80 has heavy-duty 4 m tracks with 400 mm shoes as standard for good mobility on-site and stability when operating. With a conveyor length of 23.5 m and a belt width of 1 050 mm, this unit has both a discharge height of 9.95 m and a stockpile capacity of 1 806 m at 24 degrees. The TC-80 has a capacity of up to 500+ tph (tonnes per hour). The TR-75 discharges in a kidney bean shape and features a fully automated system that automatically raises and lowers to minimise the fall height of the discharge, with an automated radial left to right drive to stop points selected on the control panel. This unit has a conveyor length of 22.9 m, a belt width of 1 050 m and a capacity of up to 600+ tph. “Our new conveyors have common parts with our existing Finlay range, so our Bell Global Logistics Centre is well covered to support these new products. They have also been specced to a high standard to meet Africa’s tough site requirements,” Ravencroft concludes.
The TC-80 in operation during the Bell 2020 Vision customer open days at the Bell Farm in Empangeni, KwaZulu-Natal
War-time mercury contamination rooted out
Dealing with elemental mercury on a Western Cape legacy site has rendered the area suitable for redevelopment. Explosives were once manufactured there, mainly for use in the Second World War.
hat was interesting about this project is that the toxicity of mercury is very dependent on the chemical speciation – on whether it is organic mercury, elemental mercury, immobile mercury salts or mercury sulfide,” says Richard O’Brien, principal environmental geochemist at SRK Consulting’s Cape Town office. “While elemental mercury is highly toxic if inhaled, organic mercury is far more toxic if you ingest it; mercury sulfide, on the other hand, presents very little risk to human health,” he expands. Speaking at the annual conference of the Network for Industrially Contaminated Land in Africa in 2018, O’Brien noted that an innovative approach was taken to establish the precise nature of the risk that the project team was dealing with. The mercury had contaminated both the soil and the groundwater, with concentrations in soil ranging from less than 5 mg/kg up to 780 mg/kg, exceeding the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) residential soil screening level of 10 mg/kg. Using an analytical method developed by the US EPA, sequential extractions were conducted across the site to infer the speciation of the mercury and to pin down what the risk drivers would be. This was done in close collaboration with the client as well as specialist consultant Infotox. The results of these tests indicated that up to 85% of the mercury was present as mercury sulfide and less than 25% as elemental mercury. “It was hoped that we could apply a remediation technology in which we could fixate elemental
mercury as a sulfide – by combining it with calcium polysulfide – which would have allowed it to be safely left in the soil,” he explains. “We conducted field trials to assess the viability of mechanically mixing the calcium polysulfide with the soil, but the high clay content of the soil rendered this approach ineffective.”
TOP Excavated impacted areas in layers based on the results of the flux chamber measurements LEFT A globule of mercury in the pebble layer at a depth of 1.2 m below surface RIGHT Surface isolation flux chamber measuring mercury flux from soil at a depth of 0.5 m below surface
Dig and disposal
vapours,” O’Brien continues. “Employed on a systematic sampling grid and repeated at 0.5 m depth increments, impacted soil was delineated and excavated with minimal standing time.” Following the removal of all soil with elevated mercury vapour concentrations, the residual soils were sampled to confirm that other mercury species were below their respective soil clean-up target levels. The excavations were then backfilled, leaving the site safe for alternative uses.
Based on these results, a dig-and-dispose approach was adopted for the remediation of the site. To decide which soil needed to be removed, a field screening methodology was developed by Infotox to obtain representative samples of soil containing globules of elemental mercury. “The solution involved flux chambers equipped with occupational mercury exposure badges, which allowed for the real-time measurement of mercury
L a n d f i ll
A major step forward in
landfill prohibitions While landfills are often still perceived as an unfortunate reality of modern life, many municipalities are grappling with the impending situation of running out of space.
s it stands, landfill disposal is not sustainable. In its efforts towards sustainable waste management, the South African government introduced a major regulator y step in its phased requirements for waste disposal, with effect from 23 August 2019. The latest prohibitions on waste disposal to landfill in the National Environmental Management: Waste Act (NEMWA; No. 59 of 2008) regulations not only focus on hazardous waste with a calorific value over 20 MJ/kg but have taken the major step to include all types of hazardous liquid waste with a moisture value above 40%.
This new piece of local legislation has moved beyond only diverting potentially economically viable recyclable hazardous waste from landfill, providing protection for people engaged in sorting solid waste. It is incumbent on all organisations to ensure that they can and will comply.
Helping clients handle their waste Geocycle South Africa – a subsidiar y of Lafarge South Africa, which is a member of the international LafargeHolcim group – is a certified ISO 14001 company offering extensive landfill diversion services. In South Africa, Geocycle and Lafarge are licensed by the Department of Environmental
Table 1 Summary of the phased NEMWA regulations (August 2013 base)
Feeding used tyres to the kilns at the Lafarge Lichtenburg Cement Plant, North West
Affairs to operate facilities producing alternative fuel resources (AFRs), as well as alternative raw materials for cement. Geocycle has been providing pre-processing services for the supply of various recycled, high-calorific-value materials, such as industrial oil sludge and used tyres, which are used as fuel in the cement kilns at the Lafarge Lichtenburg Cement Plant in the North West. A member of the Institute of Waste Management of Southern Africa, Geocycle’s services cover a full needs assessment, waste collection and transpor tation, laborator y analysis, separation into material suitable for recycling, and pre-treatment.
TYPE OF WASTE
The role of legislation
Hazardous waste with a calorific value >25 MJ/kg
Hazardous waste with a calorific value >20 MJ/kg
Hazardous waste with a calorific value >10 MJ/kg
Hazardous waste with a calorific value >6% of total organic content
Waste tyres – whole
Reclaimable or recyclable used lubricating mineral oils, as well as oil filters, excluding other oils containing waste
Reclaimable or recyclable used/spent solvents
Waste tyres – quartered
In any country, a key driver of transforming waste management practices is the effectiveness of legislation. The calorific banning prohibitions in the South African Waste Classification and Management Regulations, and suppor ting Norms & Standards Disposal Requirements for waste, focus everyone’s mind on realising the value of waste products by defining their place in the energy chain. It marks the beginning of a new era for private-public cooperation on landfill diversion.
L a n d f i ll Table 2 Five main types of waste used as AFRs (alternative fuel resources) for cement plants
FUEL MAIN TYPES (FAMILIES)
Can be atomised with compressed air (solid particles in liquid 2-4 mm)
Spent solvents, waste oils, emulsions, wastewater, depleted pesticides
If not pumpable with piston pumps, handled identically to lump fuels
Paint sludges, petroleum/oil sludges
Heavy material that cannot be carried by kiln gases is fed to the gasifier and burnt at kiln inlet
Whole waste tyres, toner cartridges, filter cakes
Coarse solids: <50 mm solids (3D) and <200 mm foils (2D)
Can be carried vertically by kiln gases and therefore suitable for feeding to precalciner
Tyre chips, coarse shredded plastics and textiles, shredded waste wood
Fine solids: <5 mm solids (3D) and <50 mm foils (2D)
Can be transported pneumatically and carried horizontally by kiln gases (suitable for main firing zone)
Impregnated sawdust, animal meal, dried sewage sludge, finely shredded plastics and waste wood
Co-processing in Lafarge’s kilns The co-processing solution is an example of applying the principles of industrial ecology to transform waste into an alternative raw material and/or source of energy for cement manufacturing. The waste can substitute natural mineral resources such as limestone and fossil fuels like coal, oil or gas. The key benefit of co-processing is that it offers a permanent solution to the management of a wide range of wastes – in particular, many intractable hazardous wastes – while making a valuable contribution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and energy costs.
Why co-processing is so effective Conditions in cement kilns are ideal for the safe and total destruction of the waste stream, as they operate with a flame temperature of around 2 000˚C, resulting in the material in the kiln being conveyed at over 1 400˚C. This compares with
Geocycle is equipped for and experienced at collecting and processing liquid waste materials
conventional incinerators operating at temperatures between 700˚C and 800˚C. “We have the international experience to be a trusted par tner in ensuring compliance on waste management and a leader for landfill diversion solutions in South Africa. This involves the requirement to collaborate closely with local communities, industries and government to ensure their specific needs are efficiently addressed,” says Brent Mahoney, director, Geocycle South Africa.
For more information, please contact Brent Mahoney: firstname.lastname@example.org | +27 (0)11 657 1258
“Health, safety, the environment and landfill diversion are at the heart of everything we do: we are committed to working towards a better, zero-waste future.”
Handling industrial oil sludge at Geocycle’s Kaalfontein waste processing facility
Surf’s up, or is it? Quantifying the plastics problem Marine plastics pollution is among the biggest environmental challenges facing the planet at present. An estimated 51 trillion pieces of microplastics are currently polluting the oceans – that’s more than 500 times the number of stars in our galaxy.
hould current trends in marine plastics pollution continue, the amount of plastics in our oceans could outweigh fish by 2050. Part of the reason for this is the fact that the use of plastics has increased in the last 50 years and is continuing to rise. Moreover, we also don’t reuse nearly as many plastics as we could, resulting in these going to landfill, which can then pollute the oceans. The IWMSA Eastern Cape Branch’s recent regional mini-conference, entitled ‘Surf’s Up or Is It?’, explored the current state of marine plastics pollution, its causes and possible solutions to the issue. Leon Grobbelaar, president, IWMSA, opened the conference with a video clip that highlights that marine plastics pollution is a global issue affecting all the oceans along our shoreline. “While the beauty of our coastlines attracts people from far and wide, the high volumes of waste produced pose a major threat to our precious coastal environments,” he said.
Dylan Bailey from Bayworld then presented his research on mathematical models that have been developed to model marine plastics pollution and can be used to run various simulations based on different scenarios to determine the impact of future actions on this pollution problem.
The ‘Towards Zero Plastics to the Seas’ approach Dr Tony Ribbink of the Sustainable Seas Trust (SST) presented on a project called ‘Towards Zero Plastic to South African Seas’. “The Towards Zero Plastics to the Seas approach provides a focus that enables people to set goals and measure progress, ideally against time frames. It is valuable in setting frameworks to guide the development of national and regional action plans that are so important to Africa.” The presentation emphasised the importance of improved waste management on land, as an estimated 80% of solid waste pollution in the marine environment originates from land-based sources. It also quantified the scale of marine
plastics pollution through citing shocking facts, including that 350 kg of plastics enter the ocean per second. In conjunction with the project, the SST will also hold a conference themed ‘Towards Zero Plastic to South African Seas’. The conference is an opportunity to agree on best practices and to explore ways to measure progress Towards Zero Plastics to the Seas, and ultimately measure progress towards the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals and the effectiveness of actions taken.
Where do marine plastics come from? According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the main sources of marine plastics are land-based – ranging from urban and stormwater run-off to sewer overflows, beach visitors, inadequate waste disposal and management, industrial activities, construction, and illegal dumping. Ocean-based plastics originate mainly from the fishing industry, nautical activities and
Institute News What is marine pollution? Pollution is defined as the process of introducing harmful or poisonous substances into the natural environment. Marine pollution is therefore defined as the introduction of toxic materials such as plastics, oil, chemicals, agricultural waste, and industrial waste into the ocean waters. Marine species ingest or are entangled by plastic debris, which causes severe injury and death. Microplastics ingestion, the bioaccumulation of toxins, endocrine system disruption in humans – these are just a few of the devastating effects that plastics pollution has on us and the environment. This pollution not only threatens food safety and quality but also human health and coastal tourism. Further, it contributes to climate change. aquaculture. At least 8 million tonnes of plastics end up in our oceans every year and make up 80% of all marine debris – from surface waters to deep-sea sediments. Theo von Ruben of ChemSolved echoed the sentiment in his presentation on the sources of marine plastics pollution. Ruben’s presentation focused on cruise liners and explored different sources of pollution, including solid waste, food waste, and ballast and bilge water. The presentation also gave an overview of legislation that governs hazardous substance and waste management of ocean vessels.
Biodegradable plastics Tembela Mapukata from the Department of Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism presented on the status of plastics pollution and the use of bioplastics as a replacement for petro-based polymers. Mapukata emphasised the dire state of marine pollution and concluded that a multipronged approach is needed to address the plastics problem. Valued IWMSA Eastern Cape patron members were in attendance. L-R: Patrick Gombos from EnviroServ, Thandeka Kolele from Volkswagen SA, and Marlon Jonas from Mercedes-Benz SA
Janine Osborne from PETCO presented an overview of the valuable work being undertaken by the organisation to increase the recycling rates of polyethylene terephthalate (PET). Around 63% of post-consumer PET bottles were collected for recycling and PETCO aims to increase this to 70% by 2022. The recycling of PET bottles has contributed to 68 000 employment opportunities across the countr y and the recycling of 700 000 tonnes of PET has saved an estimated 4.4 million m3 of landfill site airspace. Sarel Bam from Rhino Plastics presented on the positives and negatives of biodegradable, compostable and oxo-degradable plastics. A 10% reduction in the use of petroleum-based plastics can save 280 million barrels of oil a year. A 25% reduction in the use of petroleum-based plastics would be the equivalent of removing 16 million passenger cars from the roads per year. Biodegradable plastics can be used in the agricultural industry as an alternative to petroleumbased plastics. The benefit of biodegradable plastics is that, over time, they break down and become part of the soil used to plant crops.
Spar’s journey to replace plastic carrier bags Alan Stapleton of Spar presented on the retailer’s journey to replace plastic carrier bags with paper carrier bags. Spar invested in a campaign over the past four years aimed at reducing the use of plastic bags. As one of the biggest retailers in the Eastern Cape, Spar launched the initiative to urge customers to consider alternative packaging options. Between April and September 2018, 3 million fewer plastic bags were purchased by Spar customers and 4.3 million fewer plastic bags have been sold since the programme was launched. “As material distributors of plastic carrier bags, retailers can no longer ignore accountability in an increasingly harmful situation in the world. At Spar, we have taken essential first steps in trying to improve the state of our planet, by reducing single-use plastics, addressing the longer-term challenge to collect and recycle all plastic, and to reduce the use of all plastics in our operations and packaging.”
IWMSA president Leon Grobbelaar (middle) with Tania Ferreira from Oricol (right) and Emmy Nyameka from The Waste Trade Company (left)
Learners from Kabega Primary School attended the conference
Bioplastics and packaging:
can they coexist? The general perception is that degradable plastics will dissolve and disappear over time, versus conventional plastics that will be around forever. Bioplastics represent a new genre, being derived from organic sources.
relatively new field in South Africa, bioplastics developments are spearheading change within the sector and represent a crucial pillar in the evolution of the bioeconomy. The latter concept focuses on sustainable production and the conversion of biomass into a broad range of products. Bioplastics are not defined as one single material. They comprise a whole family of materials with different properties and applications. The key advantage is that they save fossil resources by using biomass, which regenerates and provides the unique potential of carbon neutrality. It is important to recognise, however, that manufacturing bioplastics is a complicated and energy-intensive process and that it is still dependent on fossil fuels.
Will bioplastics solve the problem of littering? Biodegradable plastics are often regarded as a possible solution to littering, as they can be decomposed by microorganisms without producing harmful residue. However, the process of biodegradation is dependent on certain environmental conditions – i.e. temperature, presence of microorganisms, timeframe, etc. Littering should never be promoted for any kind of material or waste. It is imperative for the
A lot of confusion still exists around the environmental claims made by the manufacturers of degradable plastics 28
consumer to continue to be conscious of the fact that no matter what type of packaging or waste, it must be subject to appropriate disposal and recovery processes.
Can bioplastics be recycled mechanically? If a separate recycling stream for a certain plastic type exists, the bioplastic material can simply be recycled together with their conventional counterpart – e.g. bio-PET bottles can be recycled with PET bottles. However, there is no separate stream for the recycling of post-consumer biodegradable or compostable plastics materials. South Africa has no commercial composting facilities for compostable plastics at this stage.
Things to consider Products with any of the following compostability standard specifications are certified for industrial composting only, namely ASTM D6400, ASTM D6868, EN 13432 or ISO 17088. Such materials have been tested and certified to degrade under specific conditions at a temperature of around 60˚C. These certifications do not cover home composting or environmental degradation at ambient temperature. Furthermore, the degradation rate of these materials has been shown to be significantly slower in an aquatic environment than in soil. South Africa currently has very few large-scale industrial composting facilities that are managed to maintain the conditions required by the above certifications. Additionally, there are currently no large-scale post-consumer waste management programmes for the separation and processing of biodegradable and compostable packaging. Consequently, these materials have no intrinsic
value to formal or informal waste collectors, so the products are likely to remain in the environment or, at best, end up at landfill. Furthermore, there is currently uncertainty about the impact that these materials will have on the efficient operation of existing recycling operations as well as the integrity of recycled products, should biodegradable/compostable products be incorporated into recyclates.
The way forward While Plastics | SA agrees that there are certain uses and applications that could potentially be ideally suited to degradable plastics, it warns that introducing bioplastics to the country’s burgeoning and well-developed recycling industry would contaminate the recycling streams. This could potentially have disastrous and costly consequences on the plastics recycling industry, which has, in recent years, become an integral part of South Africa’s economy. Last year alone, 519 370 tonnes of plastics waste were collected for recycling and provided employment to almost 60 000 people. R2.3 billion was injected into the informal sector through the purchasing of recyclable plastics waste, which was used to make many new long-term plastic products. Examples include agricultural and building products, such as water pipes, builders film, fencing and decking, as well as carpeting, geotextiles, strapping and plastic timber. For more information, visit www.plasticsinfo.co.za
New guidelines for recyclable plastic packaging The PET Plastic Recycling Company (PETCO) has released a definitive guide to packaging design, created specifically for the PET manufacturing sector.
he growing impact of the green economy on company profits has forced brands both big and small to radically transform their environmental strategies, including how their products are designed, made and packaged for customers. Smart, sustainably sourced and recyclable packaging design, which keeps plastic out of the environment, is becoming increasingly essential to any business’s bottom line. “Now, more than ever, companies failing to address consumer demand for environmental performance in product design and development will find it increasingly difficult to compete in the local and global market,” says Cheri Scholtz, CEO, PETCO, adding that the National Environmental Management: Waste Act (No. 59 of 2008) has also made extended producer responsibility a legal requirement. It is essential that retailers, brand owners, packaging manufacturers and designers embed recyclability responsibilities into the design process so that PET plastic packaging can be successfully recycled and reused in new products, she says.
Designing for ecosystems – keeping plastic out of the environment – must be at the heart of rethinking how organisations approach the circular economy and supply chain.
Designing for the environment Scholtz believes that, moving forward, a key focus will be on minimising plastic waste through design for recycling, whether it involves using more recycled content (rPET) or improving the recyclability of PET plastic bottles, which make up 70% of the PET market, as well as trays and punnets and other packaging. Currently, all plastic trays, tubs and punnets – regardless of their plastic make-up – are not collected for recycling. “PET plastic remains a lightweight, costeffective, fit-for-purpose material. But we must understand and utilise the value of its postconsumer waste as the economic resource it is in building a sustainable circular economy. “It’s about approaching sustainability not as an add-on or something to retrofit, but as a service integral to your product,” she says. The three key phases of a circular value chain are the inclusion of more materials
Packaging How to improve the Recyclability of PET trays
How to improve the Recyclability of PET bottles
Examples of PET packaging design guidelines
from sustainable sources, smar ter design that eliminates problematic or unnecessary packaging, and closing the loop to ensure that packaging can be recycled once the product has been consumed.
Embedding recyclability Packaging designs should be compatible with the recycling technologies, collection and recycling infrastructure, and end-use markets prevalent in South Africa. PET, in particular, is 100% recyclable if certain basic design principles are followed. “Plastic packaging companies, manufacturers of packaging and brand owners are asked to review their current portfolio of PET packaging against PETCO’s design guidelines, highlight any aspects where designs could potentially be improved, and implement the changes as soon as the opportunity presents itself,” says Scholtz. “Ultimately, the guiding principle for any PET packaging design should be ‘fit for purpose’. The goal of improving the recyclability of PET packaging cannot compromise product safety or interfere with product functionality. Packs must
be strong enough to protect the contents as best as possible throughout the supply chain.”
Key guidelines PETCO’s ‘Designing for the Environment’ guidelines list several key considerations: • Design PET containers with the available recycling infrastructure in South Africa in mind. • Avoid the use of materials and/or components that are known to impede the PET recycling process or reduce the quality of rPET. • Minimise the number of different plastics used and specify plastics that can be recycled together or easily separated in the recycling process. • Design components, such as closures and labels, to be easily, safely, cost-effectively and rapidly separated, and then eliminated from the rPET. • Include rPET packaging in strategic planning. • Be transparent about the recyclability of packaging and usage of rPET content. “When designing a product, considering what happens after its demise will soon become as important as its performance. Good environmental practice requires us to use the least material to
do the job required, then to reuse or recycle by recovering material or energy from products at the end of their life,” says Scholtz.
Value of rPET Scholtz argues that businesses need to recognise the recyclability of PET as the business opportunity and sustainable asset it is, as opposed to an onerous environmental obligation. “PET bottles in particular are made from one of the few polymers that can be recycled into the same form again and again.” In addition, rPET can be used to make new products such as the polyester staple fibre used for clothing, home textiles such as pillows and carpeting, automotive boot linings and seat covers, industrial roof insulation and strapping materials. Last year alone, R1.2 billion was injected into South Africa’s downstream economy from the designing, manufacturing and distribution of products made from rPET. “From PETCO’s perspective, the production and use of both food-grade and non-food-grade rPET resin remains the major growth opportunity for PET recycling in South Africa.”
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m e d i c a l w as t e
The duty of care A recent study on the state of medical waste management in rural Limpopo suggests that parts of South Africa are ill-prepared to deal with multiple forms of potentially hazardous materials.
report published by researchers from the University of Venda in June 2019 concluded that healthcare risk waste was not being efficiently managed in Limpopo’s Vhembe District. The report was based on 229 responses from managers and staff at 15 healthcare facilities. Deficiencies in the management of medical waste were attributed more to a lack of awareness and training of medical staff rather than purposeful negligence. Although the study only looks at one of South Africa’s provinces, it certainly gives pause for thought on the measure of training and awareness required to ensure that healthcare risk waste is managed safely and efficiently. “Healthcare risk waste (HCRW) is rightly considered a major threat to the safety of communities if it’s not properly handled,” says Johan van den Berg, managing director, Averda South Africa. “We haven’t had any major epidemics in South Africa related to negligence or exposure to such risks, for which we should be grateful.”
HCRW risks The management of HCRW is governed by the National Environmental Management: Waste Act (No. 59 of 2008), which places a particularly burdensome responsibility on any facilities or practitioners that produce medical waste. Specifically, the law says that this duty of care exists from the source all the way to disposal. This means that a clinic cannot absolve itself of responsibility once it has handed its waste to a waste management company. To comply, a medical facility must properly document all its HCRW from the time it was generated, transported and eventually disposed of. Figures from the Department of Environmental Affairs show that some 50 000 tonnes of
medical waste were treated in 2018 at the 18 licensed treatment facilities around the country. HCRW covers all types of organic and nonorganic materials that range from swabs, bedding, bandages and plasters to human tissue, organs and body parts. Other forms of waste include instruments such as needles, scalpels, razors and pipettes. Radiological materials used in the treatment and diagnosis of cancer are another obvious candidate for special treatment, while expired, unused, spilt or contaminated pharmaceutical products and drugs also cannot be disposed of with general waste.
Keeping track “The biggest challenge for the healthcare sector is being able to track every piece of waste it generates,” Van den Berg continues. “This does not have to be done down to the individual material or organic waste, but the regulations do stipulate that they should be able to identify the
Approximately 50 000 tonnes of medical waste were treated in 2018 at South Africa’s 18 licensed treatment facilities
source and type of HCRW down to the kilogram. This is an enormous task, and not one that every facility is able to do with absolute confidence. Obviously, as a specialist waste handler, we have systems and technology that simplify this task – but this is not the case across the board. And the University of Venda study is evidence of the extent to which this does not happen,” he points out. Specialist waste management companies like Averda are developing advanced systems that will enable producers to properly store, track and report on how and where their HCRW has been treated and disposed of. This will provide the medical industry with greater confidence in its reporting, as well as proof of its duty of care. NOVEMBER 2019
C i r c ul a r E c o n o m y
for quick wins Adopting a circular economy approach may be daunting, but there are opportunities for easy wins. By Neeraj Mannie*
here are sizeable oppor tunities to create or enter the circular economy, as there are numerous entry points in the value chain in which companies can position themselves. The starting point is often with the design of the product that is going to influence the way existing products are enhanced to show adaptation to the circular economy. This change includes the way new products are being manufactured, including assessing the use of natural resources, energy and water, the wastage factor and afterlife of product, as well as the opportunity to recycle all or parts of the product. These are the new conversations and strategies companies will be having goingÂ forward. Driving the correct mindset and behaviour among all tiers involved in research, production,
the consumer and the waste collector is going to be key in instilling a circular culture. A thorough review of the product value chain will quickly inform you as to areas where there could be opportunities to adjust the process or change materials that could suitably replace the existing ones with those that are efficient and have low impact and wastage. Supply chain and procurement form the essential starting point to implement circular economy initiatives.
Early adoption is key Early adoption of circular processes and having the vision to make it work will unleash innovation in the manufacturing and waste sectors. The success of an early win is also influenced by forging industry relationships across sectors, cross-collaboration in research between industry players and science institutions, and investment
Early adoption of circular processes and having the vision to make it work will unleash innovation in the manufacturing and waste sectors
in innovation to assess solutions to iron out waste generation in the product lifeÂ cycle. The implementation of policies to guide the kick-starting of the circular economy in South Africa is a crucial step if we are to promote best practice and sustainability. Policy formulation dialogue and implementation pathways are the enablers for getting the stakeholders to participate in the circular economy transition.
Sharing knowledge Multinational companies have a greater sense of responsibility, as they are involved in manufacturing on a global scale; policy lessons learned internationally will be welcomed locally. Sharing knowledge and lessons learnt in implementing the circular economy will be crucial for developing countries, which do not necessarily have the funding to invest in extensive research.
C i r c ul a r E c o n o m y
The commitment to instilling a circular economy model in business is attributed to the stakeholders having a strong desire to transition from the current linear model to the circular model, knowing well that current processes, costs and resources will be transformed.
International shifts Evidence of the move towards the circular economy can be seen in various shifts made by both organisations and countries. Philips Lighting has moved to a leasing model rather than a selling model. HP is following a materials cycle where its materials are being used and reused in high-grade applications. The company wants to take long-term responsibility for its products. The de facto ban by China in 2018 on solid waste highlights how there is a lack of integration of value chains in waste and other materials that are harmful to society. This creates an opportunity for local businesses to unlock the value in waste and find alternative uses such as waste-to-energy. India has placed a total ban on single-use plastics in 2019; in this spirit, an organic
and 100% biodegradable bag was created. In Vietnam, materials made from rice husk are used in the construction of heat and sound insulation of new buildings. Closer to home, in KwaZulu-Natal, a portion of a road has been built using old plastic milk bottles. There are many other initiatives being tested or in full-scale use that include waste beneficiation, waste-
to-energy, recycling initiatives and more in South Africa. These examples do require considerable time and effort into innovation. Without this intention, there would be no possibility of quick wins. The circular economy future is now. *Neeraj ‘Nick’ Mannie is a specialist advisor at Mannie Inc. – email@example.com
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A i r Q u al i t y
The lost decade Despite growing awareness and progress on climate policies in many countries, the past decade saw no change in the global emissions trend, and greenhouse gas emissions continue to grow.
he UN Environment Programme has released a report, entitled Lessons from a decade of emissions gap assessments, comparing the expectations following the Copenhagen Accord, signed in 2009, with the reality 10 years later. A review of the last decade shows that, despite a decade of increasing political and societal focus on climate change and the milestone Paris Agreement, global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions have not been curbed. In fact, the emissions gap is larger than ever.
A look at the last decade According to the report, global GHG emissions grew at an average of 1.6% per year between 2008 to 2017, reaching a record 53.5 GtCO2e in 2017. Preliminar y findings indicate that global GHG emissions continued to grow in 2018, breaking the 2017 record. Countries with declining emissions have so far been unable to offset the growth in emissions in other countries. The current level of global GHG emissions is now at around the same level of emissions projected for 2020 under the business-as-usual scenario, based on the assumption that no new climate policies are put into place from 2005 onwards. “Essentially, there has been no real change in the global emissions pathway in the last decade. The effects of climate policies have been too small to offset the impact of key drivers of emissions such as economic growth and population growth,” the report states.
The 2020 deadline These results come despite consistent emphasis on the importance of enhanced per-2020 action. Failing this comes with a host of consequences, which include the need for significantly higher rates of global emissions reductions in the medium and long term, greater dependence on negative emissions technologies in the medium term, and increased costs of mitigation and adaptation in the medium and long term, with greater risks of economic disruption. Delaying action also puts the globe at greater risk of failing to meet the well-below 2˚C target and is incompatible with meeting a 1.5˚C target. The UN’s report poses a global challenge: the ambition level of current nationally determined contributions (national plans to reduce emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change) needs to be tripled to get on track to 2˚C and increased fivefold to align with 1.5˚C. Older reports conclude that the continuation of current policies would lead to a global mean temperature rise of between 3.4˚C and 3.7˚C by 2100 relative to pre-industrial levels. Implementing the current unconditional nationally
A i r Q u al i t y
determined contributions, assuming that climate action continues consistently throughout the 21st century, would lead to a global mean temperature rise of between 2.9˚C and 3.4˚C by 2100 relative to pre-industrial levels. The forthcoming 2019 Emissions Gap Report is expected to show even more dramatic numbers, indicating a clear need for accelerated action.
Bridging the gap The good news is the gap can still be bridged, but it will require unprecedented and immediate action. The 2017 Emissions Gap Report showed that by considering only proven technologies and adopting relatively precautionary assumptions, emissions could be reduced by 33 GtCO2e per year by 2030, which is sufficient to get on track to well below 2˚C and 1.5˚C. A large part of this ‘basic’ potential is available in just six areas, which present a combined potential of up to 21 GtCO2e per year by 2030: 1. Solar energy 2. Wind energy 3. Efficient appliances 4. Efficient passenger cars 5. Afforestation 6. Stopping deforestation.
To access the full report, visit www.unenvironment.org/resources/ emissions-gap-report-10-year-summary
“While new innovation will be needed for full decarbonisation, there is no excuse for inaction now,” warns the report.
A defining decade ahead The last decade is now considered a lost opportunity for bending the global emissions curve. However, it has seen the creation of a solid foundation for accelerated action through positive policy and technology developments. Although it is an unprecedented challenge,
bending the curve and bridging the emissions gap is still possible, but it will require concerted climate action of all stakeholders, at all levels and in all sectors. “The next decade will be defining – postponing ambition and action is no longer an option, if we want the goals of the Paris Agreement to remain within reach,” states the report. “The implication is clear: if the Paris goals are to be kept viable, the world cannot afford to lose another decade.”
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Investing in African Mining Indaba Venue: Cape Town International Convention Centre, Western Cape Date: 3 to 6 February 2020 Website: www.miningindaba.com
Investing in African Mining Indaba is the largest mining investment event in Africa. Bringing together heads of state, ministers, senior government representatives, major, mid and junior
mining companies, investors, professional services, as well as mining equipment and service providers, Mining Indaba is the place to meet everybody who’s anybody in the African and global mining industry. It drives the mining industry forward and provides attendees with access to the entire value chain and the most influential players in African mining for four days of high-quality content, deal-making and networking opportunities.
Venue: Sandton Convention Centre, Gauteng Date: 31 March to 1 April 2020 Website: bit.ly/34hlZIj The show is intentionally designed to inspire and encourage knowledge exchange, project opportunities and to showcase disruptors who promise solutions that are transforming how energy is supplied in Africa. Every year, they welcome utilities, government, IPPs, large end users, disruptors and innovators, all looking to procure from, and collaborate with, the best in the world.
Power & Electricity World Africa 2020 Venue: Sandton Convention Centre, Gauteng Date: 31 March to 1 April 2020 Website: bit.ly/3344b33 Built on 23 years of history, Power & Electricity World Africa is about innovation, investment and infrastructure – energy for the people! The conference is a C-level platform that focuses on global trends and practical innovative energy applications, as well as how market players can capitalise on business opportunities across the continent. This is the place where the energy community finds solutions to its challenges.
Africa Energy Indaba Venue: Cape Town International Convention Centre, Western Cape
Date: 3 to 4 March 2020 Website: www.africaenergyindaba.com The Africa Energy Indaba Exhibition is highly relevant to companies actively involved in all areas relating to showcasing solutions for the benefit of Africa. The Africa Energy Indaba Conference will discuss, debate and seek solutions to enable adequate energy generation across Africa. Delegates, drawn from all continents, represent an unrivalled combination of industry experts, project developers, financiers, energy users, government officials and energy industry manufacturers.
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