Chapter 1: Interpretation and principles

1. Definitions

In this Act, unless the context indicates otherwise-

"acceptable exposure" means the exposure of the maximum permissible concentration of a substance to the environment that will have a minimal negative effect on health or the environment;

"associated structures and infrastructure", when referred to in Schedule 1, means any building or infrastructure that is necessary for the functioning of a facility or waste management activity or that is used for an ancillary service or use from the facility;

"best practicable environmental option" means the option that provides the most benefit or causes the least damage to the environment as a whole, at a cost acceptable to society, in the long term as well as in the short term;

"building and demolition waste" means waste, excluding hazardous waste, produced during the construction, alteration, repair or demolition of any structure, and includes rubble, earth, rock and wood displaced during that construction, alteration, repair or demolition;

"business waste" means waste that emanates from premises that are used wholly or mainly for commercial, retail, wholesale, entertainment or government administration purposes;

"by-product" means a substance that is produced as part of a process that is primarily intended to produce another substance or product and that has the characteristics of an equivalent virgin product or material;

"clean production" means the continuous application of integrated preventative environmental strategies to processes, products and services to increase overall efficiency and to reduce the impact of such processes, procedures and services on health and the environment;

"commence" means the start of any physical activity, including site preparation or any other activity on the site in furtherance of a waste management activity, but does not include any activity required for investigation or feasibility study purposes as long as such investigation or feasibility study does not constitute a waste management activity;

"Constitution" means the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996;

"container" means a disposable or re-usable vessel in which waste is placed for the purposes of storing, accumulating, handling, transporting, treating or disposing of that waste, and includes bins, bin-liners and skips;

"contaminated", in relation to Part 8 of Chapter 4, means the presence in or under any land, site, buildings or structures of a substance or micro-organism above the concentration that is normally present in or under that land, which substance or micro-organism directly or indirectly affects or may affect the quality of soil or the environment adversely;

"decommissioning", in relation to waste treatment, waste transfer or waste disposal facilities, means the planning for and management and remediation of the closure of a facility that is in operation or that no longer operates;

"Department" means the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism;

"disposal" means the burial, deposit, discharge, abandoning, dumping, placing or release of any waste into, or onto, any land;

"domestic waste" means waste, excluding hazardous waste, that emanates from premises that are used wholly or mainly for residential, educational, health care, sport or recreation purposes;

"environment" has the meaning assigned to it in section 1 of the National Environmental Management Act;

"Environment Conservation Act" means the Environment Conservation Act, 1989 (Act No. 73 of 1989);

"environmentally sound management" means the taking of all practicable steps to ensure that waste is managed in a manner that will protect health and the environment;

"export" means to take or send waste from the Republic to another country or territory;

"extended producer responsibility measures" means measures that extend a person's financial or physical responsibility for a product to the post-consumer stage of the product, and includes-

  1. waste minimisation programmes;
  2. financial arrangements for any fund that has been established to promote the reduction, re-use, recycling and recovery of waste;
  3. awareness programmes to inform the public of the impacts of waste emanating from the product on health and the environment; and
  4. any other measures to reduce the potential impact of the product on health and the environment;

"Gazette", when used in relation to-

  1. the Minister, means the Government Gazette; and
  2. the MEC, means the Provincial Gazette of the province concerned;

"general waste" means waste that does not pose an immediate hazard or threat to health or to the environment, and includes-

  1. domestic waste;
  2. building and demolition waste;
  3. business waste; and
  4. inert waste;

"hazardous waste" means any waste that contains organic or inorganic elements or compounds that may, owing to the inherent physical, chemical or toxicological characteristics of that waste, have a detrimental impact on health and the environment;

"high-risk activity" means an undertaking, including processes involving substances that present a likelihood of harm to health or the environment;

"holder of waste" means any person who imports, generates, stores, accumulates, transports, processes, treats, or exports waste or disposes of waste;

"import" means any entry into the Republic other than entry for transit;

"incineration" means any method, technique or process to convert waste to flue gases and residues by means of oxidation;

"industry" includes commercial activities, commercial agricultural activities, mining activities and the operation of power stations;

"industry waste management plan" means a plan referred to in Part 7 of Chapter 4;

"inert waste" means waste that-

  1. does not undergo any significant physical, chemical or biological transformation after disposal;
  2. does not burn, react physically or chemically biodegrade or otherwise adversely affect any other matter or environment with which it may come into contact; and
  3. does not impact negatively on the environment, because of its pollutant content and because the toxicity of its leachate is insignificant;

"integrated waste management plan" means a plan prepared in terms of section 12;

"investigation area" means an area identified as such in terms of section 37;

"licensing authority" means an authority referred to in section 43 and that is responsible for implementing the licensing system provided for in Chapter 5;

"life cycle assessment" means a process where the potential environmental effects or impacts of a product or service throughout the life of that product or service is being evaluated;

"MEC" means the Member of the Executive Council of a province who is responsible for waste management in the province;

"minimisation", when used in relation to waste, means the avoidance of the amount and toxicity of waste that is generated and, in the event where waste is generated, the reduction of the amount and toxicity of waste that is disposed of;

"Minister" means the Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism;

"municipality" means a municipality established in terms of the Local Government: Municipal Structures Act, 1998 (Act No. 117 of 1998);

"Municipal Systems Act" means the Local Government: Municipal Systems Act, 2000 (Act No. 32 of 2000);

"National Environmental Management Act" means the National Environmental Management Act, 1998 (Act No. 107 of 1998);

"non-substantive", in relation to the amendment or substitution of a regulation, notice, strategy, licence, approval, or provision thereof, includes-

  1. any clerical mistake, unintentional error or omission;
  2. the correction of any miscalculated figure; and
  3. the correction of any incorrect description of any person, thing, property or waste management activity;

"organ of state" has the meaning assigned to it in section 239 of the Constitution;

"person" has the meaning assigned to it in the Interpretation Act, 1957 (Act No. 33 of 1957), and includes an organ of state;

"pollution" has the meaning assigned to it in section 1 of the National Environmental Management Act;

"prescribe" means prescribe by regulation under this Act;

"priority waste" means a waste declared to be a priority waste in terms of section 14;

"recovery" means the controlled extraction of a material or the retrieval of energy from waste to produce a product;

"recycle" means a process where waste is reclaimed for further use, which process involves the separation of waste from a waste stream for further use and the processing of that separated material as a product or raw material;

"re-use" means to utilise articles from the waste stream again for a similar or different purpose without changing the form or properties of the articles;

"specific environmental management Act" has the meaning assigned to it in section 1 of the National Environmental Management Act;

"storage" means the accumulation of waste in a manner that does not constitute treatment or disposal of that waste;

"sustainable development" has the meaning assigned to it in section 1 of the National Environmental Management Act;

"this Act" includes-

  1. any regulations made in terms of this Act;
  2. any notice or other subordinate legislation issued or made in terms of this Act; and
  3. any regulation or direction that remains in force in terms of section 81;

"transit" means the continuous passage from one border of the Republic to another such border without storage other than temporary storage incidental to transport;

"treatment" means any method, technique or process that is designed to-

  1. change the physical, biological or chemical character or composition of a waste; or
  2. remove, separate, concentrate or recover a hazardous or toxic component of a waste; or
  3. destroy or reduce the toxicity of a waste,

in order to minimise the impact of the waste on the environment prior to further use or disposal;

"waste" means any substance, whether or not that substance can be reduced, re-used, recycled and recovered-

  1. that is surplus, unwanted, rejected, discarded, abandoned or disposed of;
  2. which the generator has no further use of for the purposes of production;
  3. that must be treated or disposed of; or
  4. that is identified as a waste by the Minister by notice in the Gazette, and includes waste generated by the mining, medical or other sector, but-
    1. a by-product is not considered waste; and
    2. any portion of waste, once re-used, recycled and recovered, ceases to be waste;

"waste disposal facility" means any site or premise used for the accumulation of waste with the purpose of disposing of that waste at that site or on that premise;

"waste management activity" means any activity listed in Schedule 1 or published by notice in the Gazette under section 19, and includes-

  1. the importation and exportation of waste;
  2. the generation of waste, including the undertaking of any activity or process that is likely to result in the generation of waste;
  3. the accumulation and storage of waste;
  4. the collection and handling of waste;
  5. the reduction, re-use, recycling and recovery of waste;
  6. the trading in waste;
  7. the transportation of waste;
  8. the transfer of waste;
  9. the treatment of waste; and
  10. the disposal of waste;

"waste management control officer" means a waste management control officer designated under section 58(1);

"waste management licence" means a licence issued in terms of section 49;

"waste management officer" means a waste management officer designated in terms of section 10;

"waste management services" means waste collection, treatment, recycling and disposal services;

"waste minimisation programme" means a programme that is intended to promote the reduced generation and disposal of waste;

"waste transfer facility" means a facility that is used to accumulate and temporarily store waste before it is transported to a recycling, treatment or waste disposal facility;

"waste treatment facility" means any site that is used to accumulate waste for the purpose of storage, recovery, treatment, reprocessing, recycling or sorting of that waste.

2. Objects of Act

The objects of this Act are-

  1. to protect health, well-being and the environment by providing reasonable measures for-
    1. minimising the consumption of natural resources;
    2. avoiding and minimising the generation of waste;
    3. reducing, re-using, recycling and recovering waste;
    4. treating and safely disposing of waste as a last resort;
    5. preventing pollution and ecological degradation;
    6. securing ecologically sustainable development while promoting justifiable economic and social development;
    7. promoting and ensuring the effective delivery of waste services;
    8. remediating land where contamination presents, or may present, a significant risk of harm to health or the environment; and
    9. achieving integrated waste management reporting and planning;
  2. to ensure that people are aware of the impact of waste on their health, well-being and the environment;
  3. to provide for compliance with the measures set out in paragraph (a); and
  4. generally, to give effect to section 24 of the Constitution in order to secure an environment that is not harmful to health and well-being.

3. General duty of State

In fulfilling the rights contained in section 24 of the Constitution, the State, through the organs of state responsible for implementing this Act, must put in place uniform measures that seek to reduce the amount of waste that is generated and, where waste is generated, to ensure that waste is re-used, recycled and recovered in an environmentally sound manner before being safely treated and disposed of.

4. Application of Act

  1. This Act does not apply to-
    1. radioactive waste that is regulated by the Hazardous Substances Act, 1973 (Act No. 15 of 1973), the National Nuclear Regulator Act, 1999 (Act No. 47 of 1999), and the Nuclear Energy Act, 1999 (Act No. 46 of 1999);
    2. residue deposits and residue stockpiles that are regulated under the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act, 2002 (Act No. 28 of 2002);
    3. the disposal of explosives that is regulated by the Explosives Act, 2003 (Act No. 15 of 2003); or
    4. the disposal of animal carcasses that is regulated by the Animal Health Act, 2002 (Act No. 7 of 2002).
  2. This Act binds all organs of state.

5. Application of National Environmental Management Act

  1. This Act must be read with the National Environmental Management Act, unless the context of this Act indicates that the National Environmental Management Act does not apply.
  2. The interpretation and application of this Act must be guided by the national environmental management principles set out in section 2 of the National Environmental Management Act.