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When does NEMWA apply to you?

by , 12 September 2013
The National Environmental Management Waste Act (NEMWA) addresses the prevention of pollution and the management of it. Failure to comply with the Act could result in a R10 million fine, jail time or both! But how do you know if the Act applies to you? Read on to find out when NEMWA applies to you so you can comply.

NEMWA has completely changed the way in which waste is handled in South Africa.

The Act promotes the reduction, re-use, recycling or recovery and as a last resort, disposal of waste. This has never been legislated so clearly. Today, what used to be seen as a 'good practice' previously, is now part of formal legislation and therefore, a legal requirement, says the Health&Safety Advisor.

That's why it's crucial that you comply with the Act especially if it applies to directly.

NEMWA applies to you if you tick any of these boxes…

NEMWA applies to companies and persons who:

  1. Generate waste
  2. Store waste
  3. Reuse, recycle and recover waste
  4. Treat waste
  5. Dispose of waste
  6. Store, treat and process animal waste
  7. Construct, expand or decommission facilities and associated structures and infrastructure.

Basically, it applied to any holder of waste. This means any person who imports, generates, stores, accumulates, transports, processes, treats or exports waste or disposes of waste, must adhere to the following duties…

Here's a checklist of duties of any person who stores waste

  • Check that the containers used for storage of waste is stored, are intact and not corroded or in any other way damaged, or unfit for the safe storage of waste;
  • Prevent accidental spillage or leaking;
  • Ensure the waste can't be blown away by wind or moving air;
  • Eliminate nuisances such as odour, visual impacts and breeding of vectors; and
  • Prevent pollution of the environment and harm to health.

Duties of persons who recover, re-use and recycling of waste

  • You must ensure that your actions use fewer resources than disposal of the waste would have used.
  • Ensure that, wherever possible, your actions are less harmful to the environment than the disposal of the waste would have been.

Here are examples of how to do this:

Recovery of waste: You can recover used oil from a separation system so that it can be processed and used again.

Re-use of waste: You can reuse chemical by-products (using a by-product from one process to complete another process)

Recycling of waste: You can send steel drums to a recycling facility or return them to the supplier.

Here's a checklist of the duties of persons disposing of waste

  • No person who disposes of waste, knowingly or negligently may dispose of it, in or on any land, water body (lakes, rivers, groundwater) or at any waste disposal facility unless the waste disposal of that waste is authorised by law.
  • No person may dispose of waste in a manner that's likely to cause pollution of the environment or harm to health and well being.

Now that you know you've established that NEMWA applies to you, make sure you comply with your responsibilities.

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