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All people have the right to a safe, clean, healthy & sustainable environment.
Waste management includes all the activities and processes involved in managing waste from its creation to its final re-use or disposal. Waste typically refers to the physical aspect of various materials which can be in solid, liquid or gas form. When incorporating the circular economy mindset, waste can also refer to other resources such as energy, water use and human/ mechanical involvement.
The types of actions involved in waste management include the separation, sorting, collection, transportation, processing, treatment and disposal of waste materials. This is usually waste produced by human activity. These activities need to take place in line with waste-related laws and regulations to ensure compliance and the safe handling and process of all materials.
Waste management deals with a wide variety of waste which comes from industrial, biological, commercial and household sources. Some types of waste are hazardous and pose a serious threat to human health and the environment. Even non-hazardous waste left untreated or disposed of incorrectly, creates health and environmental risks.
The global realisation of the dire need to protect our natural resources and ecosystems has placed a strong focus on the importance of implementing sustainable and environmentally responsible waste management practices.
Effective waste management is critical to prevent negative environmental, social and economic impacts as well as to protect our ecosystems and natural resources to provide a healthy and safe environment in which all life forms can thrive.
Sustainability means that responsible businesses are morally and legally bound to manage their waste products in the most effective way possible to comply with more stringent regulations and demonstrate good corporate citizenship. By adopting the global hierarchy of waste management principles to minimise, reduce, recycle, recover, treat and dispose of waste safely and ethically, not only helps divert valuable materials from landfills but also supports the creation of jobs, innovative technologies, a healthier planet and an environmentally astute culture all round.
The purpose of a waste management plan is to ensure legal compliance, drive environmentally sound business practices and provide guidance on how to minimise, re-use, recycle, handle, contain and dispose of all waste generated. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to waste management, hence a waste management plan specific to each operation is needed to manage waste effectively and efficiently.
A standard waste management plan includes but is not limited to the following elements:
The cost of waste management in South Africa has generally been underpriced, which means that the costs of managing waste are not fully appreciated or understood by consumers and industry, and waste disposal to landfill is preferred over other options.
The implementation of ongoing new regulations governing waste, the ongoing bans of certain types of waste from landfill disposal, consumer pressure to buy from more environmentally conscious companies, zero waste to landfill strategies and rising statutory and operating costs are all contributing factors to compliant waste solutions.
It is also important to understand the true cost of waste management. Elements such as waste sampling, analysis and classification, labour, equipment, transport, handling, blending, preparation, treatment and/or disposal, compliance, monitoring and management should be factored into the total cost of waste management.
In order to manage waste and the costs associated thereto more comprehensibly, companies which implement waste management strategies and plans, tend to not only reduce their costs in the longer term but also achieve more sustainable environmental and social goals.
The ultimate aim of waste management is to protect the planet and its natural resources through the maximum extraction of the benefits from materials processed and then to manage waste in the best possible way so that the minimum amount of waste is produced.
All products and services have environmental impacts, from the extraction of raw materials for production to manufacturing, distribution, consumption and final disposal.
This is why an integrated approach to waste management is required to ensure the most resource-efficient and environmentally conscious decisions are made and that waste disposal is the last option for consideration as opposed to the standard linear model where waste is only considered at the end of the value chain and disposal thereof becomes the simplest solution.
The global hierarchy of waste management is a methodology used to deliver sustainable benefits as the process not only considers and protects the environment but incorporates resource and energy consumption from the most preferred to least favourable actions. It prioritises waste handling methodologies in order to reduce waste volumes to landfill facilities.
The waste management hierarchy is shown diagrammatically in the form of an upside down pyramid. It depicts the progression of a material / resource / product through different stages of waste management. Benefits from applying this process include reduced waste, the prevention of greenhouse gas emissions, the use of less pollutants, conservation of energy and resources, the creation of jobs and development of environmentally friendly technologies and solutions.
Waste avoidance is the most preferred option as no waste means no cost in managing waste. Avoidance starts at the product design and purchasing stage and should be considered throughout the product value chain and life-cycle.
The second option is waste reduction and reuse. Procurement and supply chain representatives can play a lead role in how raw materials are sourced, packaged and delivered....
Recycling is the next step to be incorporated if reuse is not an option. Recycling reduces the environmental impacts, minimises use of landfill airspace and also provides valuable secondary raw materials for the production of new products.
Recovery is generally the final step in extracting value from waste. It can involve the compliant and controlled incineration of waste and the recovery of the latent heat energy of the materials. The energy recovery process is often referred to as waste-to-energy...
Some waste materials can be treated for safe disposal and / or reuse through a variety of measures. Treatment refers to any process designed to minimise the environmental impact of the waste by changing the physical properties of the material or separating out and destroying toxic components of waste.
Waste Containment is the practice of constructing storage facilities to safely contain and control hazardous and non-hazardous waste materials.
Disposal of waste should be the last option when all other methods have been considered. It involved the depositing or burial of waste into an authorised landfill. The waste type should be assessed prior to disposal to ensure it is disposed of in the legally compliant manner and to the correct facility according to its analysis and classification.
An integrated and holistic approach to waste management is critical to ensure the most value is realised from an economic, social and environmental perspective. Interwaste aims to assist its clients transition their business mindset to the circular economy way of thinking. The circular economy offers significant opportunities to truly deliver on more inclusive economic growth, which includes job opportunities, entrepreneurship, innovation and positive environmental practices that are required for sustainable growth.
As a reformative system, the circular economy is a model that aims to strip out all unnecessary waste materials, energy losses and related carbon emissions across supply chains and through integration and innovation, promotes closing gaps to allow materials, energy and resources to be re-used into the system.
This is an alternative way of operating to the traditional “make-use-dispose” linear approach. It is a more sustainable eco-cycle which puts the environment and its precious resources at the heart of the business. It is achieved through re-looking and integrating processes across the value chain such as long-term design and planning, careful sourcing, maintenance, repair, reuse, remanufacturing, refurbishing, recycling and upcycling.
Managing waste effectively and compliantly involves an iterative, holistic process. Interwaste offers its clients a full service solution to assist in achieving their environmental and sustainability goals. Our integrated approach includes:
How waste management fits The waste management industry has faced several operational...Read More