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Say what? Waste Management terminology [UPDATE]

By Bertie Lourens 12th August 2020 Waste Management

A while back we posted a list of the top trending waste management terminology sector today. Since then a few new technologies and legislations have come into play, and they are changing the way we view, value and move our waste. Here’s an updated list of key terms that will help you navigate the way forward.

  • Anaerobic digestion:

The process by which organic matter (plant or animal-based waste) is broken down, in the absence of oxygen, to produce biogas and biofertiliser.

  • Biogas:

A type of biofuel that is naturally produced from the breakdown of organic matter, utilising nature’s ability to recycle substances into productive resources.

  • Biofertiliser:

A fertiliser packed with living microbes and an increased supply of essential nutrients that help promote plant growth.

  • Biofuel:

Any fuel that is derived from biomass (waste produced from plants or animals), which provides a more eco-friendly alternative to fossil fuel energy.

  • Business waste:

Waste made by companies, retail, wholesale, entertainment, or the government.

  • Carbon tax:

SA’s latest legislation (currently on hold due to Covid-19) that will impose a fee on businesses and consumers of R120 per tonne of CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent), with an effective tax rate ranging between R6-R48, for the consumption of carbon-based fuels (coal, oil, gas). 

  • Circular economy:

An economy regenerative by design, aiming to optimise the value of products, parts, and materials.

  • Commercial waste:

Waste from a trade or business, or activity related to sport, retail, recreation, education or entertainment. It excludes household, agricultural or industrial waste.

  • Compost:

Decayed organic material, used as a fertiliser for growing plants.

  • Contamination:

Any material, substance or object that decreases the value of your materials or their chances of being recycled.

  • CO2 Equivalence:

The amount or concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) within a greenhouse gas related to its projected impact on global warming.

  • Cradle to grave:

The tracking of waste, from the moment it enters a site to the eventual treatment or disposal of that material.

  • Domestic waste:

Waste that is generated by households.

  • Duty of Care:

A moral or legal obligation to ensure the safety or well-being of others.

  • General waste:

Waste that does not pose an immediate hazard or threat to health or to the environment.

  • Green Star SA:

A voluntary rating system modelled off the Australian Green Star rating system that gives the commercial property sector a common ‘language’ to rate and certify their levels of sustainability. 

  • Insect protein:

A highly energy-efficient alternative to traditional animal protein that could potentially meet the almost doubled food demand predicted by 2050.  

  • Integrated waste management:

A combination of waste management approaches, including: source reduction, composting, incineration, recycling, and landfills.

  • Mixed waste:

Any combination of waste types with different properties, ranging from biodegradable to inorganic waste.

  • MRF (Materials Recovery/Recycling Facility):

Facilities that receive, separate and prepare recyclables for the end user, such as our MRF facilities which also includes a buyback programme

  • Municipal waste:

A waste type consisting of everyday items that are discarded by the public.

  • NEM (National Environmental Management) Air Quality Act:

A new legislation at play which defines the national norms and standards regulating air quality monitoring, and works to provide reasonable measures to manage pollution and promote sustainable skies above SA. 

  • NEM (National Environmental Management) Waste Act:

SA’s most comprehensive and important piece of environmental legislation that sets the national norms and standards for regulating waste, including licensing, compliance and punitive enforcement. 

  • On site waste management:

Any kind of waste activity (recycling, composting, separating) conducted on the premises where waste is originally produced.

  • Organic waste:

Biodegradable waste that comes from either a plant or an animal. Example: Food waste.

  • Plant-based products:

Renewable, bio-based products that offer a low carbon alternative to plastic materials or animal-based food or products. 

  • Recovery:

The collection and reuse of disposed materials.

  • Recycle:

A process where waste is reclaimed for further use, and processed as a product or raw material.

  • Renewable energy:

Energy from a source that is not depleted when used, such as wind, hydro, or solar power.

  • Reuse:

To re-utilise articles from the waste stream for a similar or new purpose, without changing their form or properties.

  • SA Plastics Pact:

SA’s pledge in response to the current worldwide initiative amongst businesses, governments, and NGOs to move plastic into the circular economy, in which it never becomes waste or pollution. Their 2025 goals can be seen here.

  • Separation at source:

The separation and recovery of recyclables and other reusable waste from general waste streams at the source of its production.

  • Sustainability:

Avoidance of the depletion of natural resources, in order to maintain ecological balance.

  • Upcycling:

A creative way of converting discarded objects or materials into new products that are of higher quality or value than the original. 

  • Waste2brick technology:

A zero waste innovation with promising returns on investment, which converts general waste into building bricks.

  • Waste hierarchy:

The prioritisation of waste management options (in descending order) throughout its lifecycle.

  • Waste management:

The activities and actions required to manage waste, from its inception to its final disposal.

  • Waste minimisation:

To make every means possible to avoid and/or reduce the amount of waste and toxicity generated.

  • Waste reduction:

Using less material and energy to minimise waste generation, and preserve natural resources.

  • Waste to energy:

Generating fuel or energy in the form of electricity and/or heat, from waste.

  • Zero waste to landfill:

Waste management and planning approaches that emphasise waste prevention, as opposed to end-of-pipe waste management disposed of in landfills.


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Bertie Lourens

Author Bertie Lourens

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