Forewarned is forearmed: shifting waste laws

PETCO’s Law and Order: An Overview of Waste Law in South Africa workshop was hosted on 18 March in Cape Town. Attended by more than 60 delegates, the workshop answered some of the key questions relating to the legal aspects of waste management and how this affects business operations as well as opportunities for growth of the Green Economy.

“PETCO is keen to support entrepreneurship which is essential to the growth and dynamism of the recycling economy. We are seeing a lot of new businesses enter into the recycling sector, but companies of any size cannot do business without having knowledge of the legal, government and regulatory issues that affect them” explains Scholtz.

“This workshop was aimed at assisting our stakeholders to keep abreast of legal issues thus ensuring their sustainability and longevity, and is complimentary to the suite of workshops we offer covering various aspects of technical, design and operational issues” she added.

The three-hour workshop saw the coming together of experts in the field, including Belinda Langenhoven (Department of Environmental Affairs & Development Planning) who gave a broad overview of recent environmental /waste legislation and implications for the waste management and recycling sector;  Susan Oelofse (CSIR) who covered the recent Regulatory Impact Assessment findings and status quo for the Western Cape; Bonte Edwards and Tamryn Hydernrych  (Jeffares and Green) who gave a consultant’s viewpoint on the challenges in legal compliance on the ground and Gracia Munganga (Greencape) who spoke on developing the Waste Economy- an overview of Greencape initiatives including WISP.

Some of the key points stemming from the days discussion included:

  • The need to conduct due diligence before commencing waste management and recycling activities as there is a minefield of legislation to navigate
  • The need for up-front planning and engagement of officials when considering legal compliance, including future plans for growth or locational shifts, in order to accommodate expanded activities without having to apply for a further licences and authorisations
  • Acknowledgement of the time and costs associated with the process
  • Understanding the fact that government has the responsibility to legislate as well as deliver services and although the current legal regime was promulgated with good intentions, there are unintended consequences- however these can be overcome with further strategic guidelines, norms and standards and mechanisms which industry welcomes
  • Counter-intuitively, legislation has stimulated growth of the waste sector and there are numerous opportunities for development and industrial symbiosis in the sector
  • It’s encouraging to see that government is considering further definition of “waste”- with waste no longer being viewed as waste once it is processed. This further entrenches the shared view that waste is a resource.

“This information sharing workshop provided a platform for valuable discussion for players along the entire value chain – from production to recycling and re-use,” says PETCO CEO Cheri Scholtz. “We hope to continue the conversation thus adding value for our members.”

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