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Upgrade of South Africa's hazardous waste handling

Photo: COWI
Facility workers neutralise inorganic waste before it is disposed of in a South African landfill
South Africa is building up a modern waste management industry and COWI has been charged with developing a new system for classifying the country's hazardous waste based on international standards.

In April 2009, South Africa adopted a policy allowing the incineration of waste – a policy which COWI helped to define. It is a policy that gives South Africa means of developing a modern waste management industry which will benefit the population as a whole in the course of the years to come.

Integrated system

Together with a South African business, COWI has been awarded a contract to develop a classification system for hazardous waste in South Africa. The existing classification system has limited flexibility and therefore limits the scope for restructuring South Africa's waste management from a landfill-based process to a more integrated system with several treatment options such as recycling and incineration. The Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) is a very active and important counterpart in the development of the necessary legislation.

Waste classification

When waste is classified, it is sorted using objective criteria which vary according to the type of waste. Classification can help to determine how waste should be sorted at the source and treated once it has been collected. The overall purpose of the project is thus to formulate a review of South Africa's existing waste classification system which regulates the procedures for handling, storing, treating and reporting the country's waste, and which will be acceptable to stakeholders.

Cooperation partners

COWI carries out the project in collaboration with the South African company, Environmental Science Associates and two specialist consultants from the companies NORSAS (Norway) and Kommunekemi (Denmark). The project was tendered under the umbrella of the Danish-South African Urban Environment Programme.

COWI has previously undertaken tasks in the field of waste handling for South Africa's Ministry of the Environment and is currently providing sub-consultancy services on a separate waste project for the City of Johannesburg.

LAST UPDATED: 01.02.2016