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Local waste management: A year in review and what to expect in 2020

By Bertie Lourens 20th November 2019 Waste Management

Blurb: 2019 was anything but “business as usual”. It was a year filled with tonnes of changes in the waste management industry both locally and internationally. Today we’ll take a deeper look at the major events that took place in 2019 as well as everything we can expect as we move forward into 2020.

This year, new legislation, as well as market pressures and an upsurge of public environmental consciousness, have moved boundary lines and changed up the game of SA waste management. These new realities are not going anywhere, but will rather continue to reshuffle the waste sector landscape at an increased rate in 2020. Here’s what we have seen and what we can expect to hit our WastePlan shores in the coming year.

First, a year in review:

2019 saw…

  • Changes to waste management legislation: now both the waste site and the process need to be registered with the relevant authorities.
  • The banning of the disposal of certain waste streams at landfills (such as liquid waste as from August 2019).
  • Increases in labour costs due to the advent of the National Minimum Wage.
  • Falling commodity prices for many recyclable products. (China implemented an import ban, which led to a local oversupply of these materials).
  • Public focus on the negative environmental impact of plastic waste that has raised the bar on better waste management across the broader economy.
  • The onset of new innovative technologies that, though still unproven, threaten to disrupt the waste management status quo.
  • The looming threat of rising costs, set into effect by the new SA Carbon Tax.


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What will 2020 hold?

  • The Waste Act will require generators to comply with new legislation.
  • The National Minimum Wage will most likely be reviewed in 2020, with the potential for labour costs to climb again.
  • There will be a greater demand for increased efficiencies in the waste management systems: a push for more recyclables, less waste volume, and lower costs of waste to landfill disposal.
  • Companies will start the process of diverting organic waste from landfill (a legislation that will enforce 50% compliance by 2022 and 100% compliance by 2027). Initially Western Cape will lead the charge on this initiative, but it’s anticipated that other provinces will follow suit.
  • A range of alternative waste treatment systems will come onto the scene to offset the Carbon Tax blow. For example: composting, protein manufacturing, and anaerobic digestion systems will be on the upswing. Treatment processes like pyrolysis could become a more widespread solution to generate new value from non-recyclable plastic currently landfill-bound.
  • The concept of “Zero Waste to Landfill” will gain more traction and achievability in the eyes of responsible business partners. For those willing to “partner” with specialists, ZWTL could well become an attainable reality (or at the very least, a few giant steps forward in the right direction).

Needless to say, 2020 promises to be a mixed bag of both change and opportunity. Those companies that can see the cracks in the status quo practices as gaps for innovation will be those who benefit in the long run. In a time of deep change and added market uncertainty, future-proofing your business is everything.


Want to stay one step ahead of the game when it comes to responsible, profitable, waste management? Contact us for a consultation today and we’ll help you stay ahead of the curve.

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Bertie Lourens

Author Bertie Lourens

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