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Correctly managing your waste as a company is more important than ever as sustainability becomes a key requirement for businesses. In South Africa, the government is expecting greater compliance, and there are consequences for falling short. But you need to have the right waste management partner in place who understands the technical requirements and has the networks and skills in place to meet global waste management standards. 

“Solid waste management is everyone’s business.” 

We have to agree with those words by Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez, Africa director for The World Bank’s Sustainable Development Practice Group, given the rapid rate South Africa’s landfills are filling

Gone are the days when sustainability was the concern of one part of the business. For us to thrive as businesses, we need a similarly thriving environment to operate within. Everyone, from the CEO down to the floor worker, should be aware of how a company can start to reduce its carbon footprint. 

The easiest way to start is with the waste on your doorstep. And as Ijjasz-Vasquez puts it, everyone is responsible for that. 

New pressure for greater compliance

But, let’s face it: Not everyone is trained to meet global waste management standards – or the stringent requirements of local legislation. South Africa’s Waste Act is highly detailed, and the government is getting serious about people and organisations adhering to the rules. 

Last year South Africa’s government revamped its National Waste Management Strategy, and compliance is more important than ever. In fact “Compliance, Enforcement And Awareness” are one of the three key pillars of the new strategy. 

New measures include:

  • Enhanced capacity to enforce the Waste Act and international agreements;
  • Increasing the number of active Environmental Management Inspectors 

Failure to comply can result in fines and other punitive measures.

The food and beverage industry in South Africa particularly needs to pay attention. About 10 million to 12.6 million tons of food are estimated as lost or wasted every year in South Africa.

As the government gears up to do a better job at enforcing adherence to best practice waste management, your company should get ahead of the curve and ensure compliance now. 

The best way to tackle your company’s waste management is to get a good service provider on board. 

What to look for in a waste management partner

There are many companies dedicated to helping you sort through your solid waste, and dramatically reduce what you end up sending to a landfill.

But it is crucial to get the right partner. According to Rakash Suknunun, GM for SmartMatta in KwaZulu-Natal, you want to ensure your service provider ticks off several boxes. They should:

  • Ensure legal compliance and safe methods for waste disposal.
  • Provide you with innovative landfill diversion solutions. They must be determined to think outside the box when it comes to waste management. This includes creating opportunities for zero waste solutions that increase economic and environmental value. 
  • Have strong networks of recycling partners, key equipment, and skilled expertise to ensure that your waste is effectively managed. 
  • Be transparent and ethical, plus be capable of integrating, optimising, measuring, and reporting on environmental aspects across your business. 

Five ways to meet global waste management standards

While you go about researching and finding the right waste management partner, here are five ways to you can immediately start meeting global waste management standards, according to Suknunun:

  1. Design for recycling wherever possible. Ensure that as much product packaging as possible is made using sustainable recyclable packaging, which can be locally recycled. Avoid the use of multi-layered packaging that is often unrecyclable.
  2. Monitor the production line and note where waste is produced. Eliminating waste at source is the fastest and most effective route to reducing your company’s waste.   
  3. Conduct a waste analysis to understand any non-recyclable waste streams you may have and consider innovative, closed-loop alternative solutions for these.
  4. Invest in continuous research and development into sustainable landfill alternative solutions.
  5. Develop and maintain key relationships with organic farmers and waste management companies: This can open up the option of converting food waste into compost or farm feed, thus promoting a circular economy.

As sustainable business practices increasingly become the norm, your business will have to keep up. Start today and get the right partner on board, to future proof your business – and get compliant. 

Getting the right waste management partner in place saves you both time and money in the long run. You can focus on your business operation while your waste manager takes care of your waste management needs.

Looking for a waste management partner who ticks all the requirements to keep you compliant? Explore SmartMatta’s services and get in touch for a quote.   

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