New rules for waste collection come into effect

31st January 2011 By: Christy van der Merwe

The National Domestic Waste Collection Standards, which sought to redress the past imbalances in the provision of waste collection services, would come into effect on February 1.

Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa published the standards under the National Environmental Management: Waste Act.

It aimed at providing a uniform framework within which domestic waste should be collected in South Africa.

It came after a consultative process with provinces, municipalities and the general public, and was expected to guide municipalities on how to provide an acceptable, affordable and sustainable waste collection service for enhanced human health and environmental improvement.

The standards covered the levels of service, separation at source (between recyclable and non-recyclable materials), collection vehicles, receptacles, collection of waste in communal collection points, and most importantly, the frequency of collection.

With regard to the issue of separation at source, the document said that this should be encouraged and supported in line with industry waste management plans.

It also stated that all domestic waste must be sorted at source in all metropolitan and secondary cities, and that the service provider, or municipality must provide clear guidelines to households regarding types of waste, the sorting of waste, appropriate containers, and the removal schedules for each type of waste.

The Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) said that non-recyclable material - such as perishable food waste - must be collected at least once a week, and recyclable material - such as paper, plastic, glass - must be collected once every two weeks.

Municipalities had a choice on whether or not to provide different types of bins, taking into consideration the type of vehicles they use. However, the bins should be rigid and durable to prevent spillage and leakage.

The DEA added that the development of the standards took into consideration the existing practices at local government level across the country and sought to build on what has already been achieved.