Recent changes made to the National Norms and Standards for Organic Waste Composting by the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment will open the doors to many new organics waste composting facilities being able to open.
The new norms no longer require Environmental Impact Assessments for composting facilities processing more than 10 tons of organic waste per day, which will significantly reduce the time frame to establishing a new composting facility, creating more opportunities and capacity to process organic waste.
The Organics Recycling Association of South Africa (ORASA), an industry body representing the organic waste recycling industry, was instrumental in assisting National Government to draw up the new norms and standards that have clear requirements for compost facilities allowing them to process organic waste streams into valuable compost.
“It is estimated that there are 3 million tons per year of organic waste in the Western Cape that need to be diverted from landfill and capacity to process this waste needs to be greatly increased,” says ORASA Chairperson, Melanie Ludwig.
“The new norms and standards for composting will help to remove barriers to establishing new composting facilities, which will significantly assist in increasing processing capacity in light of the organic waste landfill ban that will come into effect in the Western Cape in 2022.”
Landfills are fast filling up and organic waste in landfills is responsible for producing methane, a greenhouse gas 21 times more harmful than carbon dioxide, and a major contributor to climate change. In the Western Cape more than 40% of all waste delivered to landfills is organic waste, this includes food, paper, wood, fat and compostable packaging. By composting organic waste instead of landfilling it, the production of methane can be eliminated and the resulting compost can be put back into the soil where it will help plants pull carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and help reverse climate change through carbon capture.
“By amending the regulations Environmental Affairs has made it much easier for businesses to establish composting facilities and achieve the required diversion targets,” says Ludwig.
“This is great news, especially at a time when our employment levels are at such drastic lows!”