National Environmental Management: Waste Bill [B40-2007]: finalisation


11 March 2008
Chairperson: Mr L Zita (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The committee listened to a few comments from officials from Business Unity South Africa (BUSA) on the Bill. They also listened to a presentation by the ACMP on the National Environmental Management: Waste Bill. The committee also finalised the amendments to the Bill. It was agreed that more environment friendly and energy saving alternatives should be explored in the process of waste management. It was also agreed that the Bill would go along way in regulating and controlling the activities of cement and other producers involved in waste management.

Meeting report

National Environmental Management: Waste Bill: Public hearings
Business Unity South Africa (BUSA) Submissions
The officials from BUSA commented that the definition of incineration as contained in the Bill should be looked at in its broadest forms, and BUSA was against a total exclusion of incineration. BUSA believed that the Bill should be drafted in such a way as to consider all technological possibilities that impacted on power generation. BUSA was generally satisfied with the Bill and noted that it was working in consultation with the Department of Trade and Industry (dti) to address the environmental concerns that had arisen in recent times.

Association of Cementitious Material Producers (ACMP) Submission
Mr Dumisani Tembe and Mr Egmont Ottermann represented the ACMP. Their submission stated that the economic growth in South Africa had led to an increase in the generation of waste, especially hazardous industrial waste, which in turn had led to waste management and sustainability challenges. Due to the surge in the export demand for South African coal, available natural resources had been put under considerable pressure. A solution to this was the improvement of available energy resources in the country, with a focus on the use of renewable energy sources, like waste. These challenges had resulted in such waste management and energy recovery methods as cement kiln co-processing.

Co-processing of waste in cement kilns resulted in the recovery of the energy and mineral value of waste, without any extra waste generated in the process. It had been accepted internationally as best practice for management of waste. The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) had also recognised it as a waste recovery method. The co-processing method involved the use of selected waste materials in a controlled manner. The best features of the co-processing of waste in cement kilns were that the emissions from co-processing of waste were essentially the same as when using conventional fuels, and that there was no ash produced, as all ash from the waste materials was incorporated into the clinker.

Mr Tembe noted that co-processing should take place in a regulated environment. Co-processing also reduced the impact of fossil fuel emissions on climate change. In co-processing, organic waste materials that would have been dumped in land-fill sites, generating methane emissions, would now replace fossil fuels, saving greenhouse gas emissions both through the reduction in landfill emissions and the reduction of emissions from combustion of fossil fuels.

He added that even though co-processing of waste in cement kilns was a controversial activity, it was accepted as international best practice by many governments in the developed and developing world. He stated that the Association was committed to improving the communication with communities which had so far had a poor perception of the cement industry due to lack of information. He once again stressed the benefits of co-production and added that it would also lessen the climate change impact of the cement industry and create jobs through the pre-processing of waste.

Mr A Mokoena (ANC) felt that the presentation was too general in nature and asked if there were any specific changes the ACMP wanted to be made in the Bill.

Mr Ottermann responded that the Association felt that placing a ban on incineration would cause a lot of problems, both from the business point of view for cement producers, and from an environmental point of view, as the land waste sites were already over stretched.

Mr G Morgan (DA) asked how much interaction there was between the ACMP and the Department of Environment and Tourism, and if so, whether it was of a regular nature. He also asked what level of engagement the ACMP had with surrounding communities.

Mr Ottermann said that the interaction with the Department had been intensive and positive so far. He acknowledged that there had been a communication gap between the cement producers and their surrounding communities, but assured the Committee that this was being addressed.

Mr Morgan also asked what the scale of technology available for cement kiln co-processing was, and whether South Africa had this technology.

Mr Ottermann noted that of the four major cement companies in South Africa, three were owned by international corporates and this international knowledge would be applied to South Africa.

Mr D Maluleke (ANC) agreed that there was an opportunity for job creation through the co-processing system and noted that it would have a positive effect on climate change. The method was therefore to his mind commendable.

The Chairperson asked if there were any alternatives to incineration. He also asked if there were any dangers to co-processing.

Ms J Chalmers (ANC) asked where the dust in cement production came from if there was indeed no ash being emitted.

Mr Ottermann stated that it was difficult to say whether there were alternatives to incineration. This was because there would always be alternatives as technology improved. These alternatives may however not be necessarily the most suitable alternatives. In respect of the dust emissions, he stated that, using the co-processing method, less than 0.5% of dust was emitted into the environment. The emissions from co-processing in the cement kiln did not necessarily change, and the kiln used the ash from the coal as raw material.

Mr Mokoena asked how it was possible to acquire the best technology in existence. He also noted that it was rumoured that because of the ability to incinerate, South Africa had been turned into a dumping ground for waste from neighbouring countries.

Mr Ottermann stated that the cement kilns being built now were of the best technology in existence and that indeed the best technology was available in the country.

Ms C Zikalala (IFP) noted that there had always been complaints from surrounding communities about the activities of cement factories, and that they all had very sad stories to tell.

Mr Maluleke asked if the Association had received complaints from communities about dust and other emissions, and wanted to know what steps were taken to address the problems.

Mr Ottermann stated that communities had made complaints and that such complaints were being dealt with on a case by case basis. He conceded that emissions from cement production needed to be improved and that member companies were investing a lot of money in this regard.

The Chairperson noted that it was necessary for industries to look at other alternatives of waste management other than incineration, which should be a method of last resort.

Mr Mokoena asked what the Association’s attitude was towards placing a moratorium on incineration.

Mr Ottermann responded that it would be wrong to say that incineration should be regarded as a method of last resort because it was more pragmatic to incinerate or co-process materials which could not be recycled. He however did agree that the incineration should be more regulated and controlled.

Ms J Chalmers (ANC) asked if the older existing kilns could be upgraded to the more modern technology or whether they would be phased out.

Mr Ottermann said that it was possible to acquire the best technology available because three of their member companies were multinationals, and two of them were the biggest cement factories in the world. He added that some cement kilns would be phased out because they did not meet the existing technological requirements.

Proposed Amendments to the Bill: Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEAT) briefing
Ms Joanne Yawitch, DDG, DEAT, noted that there were now several amendments being proposed to the Bill. Members of the Committee had previously agreed that these amendments should be incorporated.  Ms Yawitch summarised these as follows:

The insertion in clause 1 of a definition of incineration which reads “incineration means any method, technique or process to convert waste to fuel gasses and residues by means of oxidation”.

The deletion in clause 4(1) of “organic waste that emanates from agricultural activities or forestry”.

The insertion of “including the separation of waste at the point of generation” in clause 7(2)(a).

The insertion of a new section 11(6).

The insertion, in clause 12(1)(e)  of “establish targets for the collection, minimisation, re-use and recycling of waste”

A new Section 35(2) to be inserted, reading: “This part does not apply to banks which held land before the commencement of this Act and which land was sold for the purposes of foreclosure, provided that the land was sold without delay”

The insertion of a new section 45(3) which stated the requirements for applying for a waste management license.

The insertion of a new section 48(d), which stated factors to be taken into account when considering an application for a waste management license.

The deletion of the proposed section 68(6).

The insertion of a new section 69(6).

The deletion of “President” and insertion of “Minister” in the proposed section 84.

Mr Morgan said that he was satisfied that the amendments adequately covered the complexity of debates that had taken place before the Committee in the previous weeks.

Mr Mokoena noted that Part 2 of the Bill did not provide for municipal norms and standards. It only provided for national and provincial norms and standards. This was unsatisfactory.

Ms Yawitch responded that Part 2 had posed quite a challenge in drafting because the Department had to create a situation that would be constitutionally defensible. She added that Clause 9 in Part 2 recognised the authority of the municipalities and gave some direction to them on how to carry out their municipal functions, subject to the national and provincial norms and standards.

The Chairperson added that the Committee had earlier reached a consensus on the various issues raised and on the amendments in its previous meetings and urged that the matters agreed upon would be maintained as they were. 

These amendments were therefore accepted by the Committee.

The meeting was adjourned.


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