Proposed Draft Food Losses and Waste Strategy to bring changes to organic waste management in 2024.

South Africa is known to have some of the best waste management regulations and policies in the world, however progress towards a fully integrated circular economy is slow. This is especially evident within the food and organic waste stream with a total of 12.6 million tonnes of food loss and waste generated on an annual basis. The Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment’s (DFFE) response has introduced the Draft Strategy for Reducing Food Losses and Waste which was made available for comment in September 2023.

BiobiN South Africa unpacks the proposed draft strategy and highlights the importance of organic waste landfill diversion and alternative waste treatment methods as the draft strategy is likely to come into effect in 2024.

“Numerous waste regulations have come into effect in recent years with the intention to divert more waste from landfill and improve recycling rates. We have seen this with the extended producer responsibility regulations and the waste classification regulations. This new draft strategy for food loss and waste will likely result in a newly promulgated national food loss and waste strategy in 2024,” says Brian Küsel, from BiobiN South Africa. “Businesses that produce large volumes of food waste will need to make provisions to divert their waste through alternative waste treatment methods, like composting for example.”

While the Western Cape has set ambitious targets for eliminating organic waste from landfill completely by 2027, the new Strategy for Reducing Food Losses and Waste will likely propose similar targets on a national level. If this is the case, the food production sector will need to make significant changes to reduce food loss and waste along the supply chain. The majority of South Africa’s food losses and waste (68%) occur in the early stages of production with 19% occurring during post-harvest handling and storage, and 49% during processing and packaging. Of the food that is wasted, 44% is vegetables and fruits, 26% is grains, 15% is meat and the remaining 13% consists of oilseeds, tubers and roots.

“We highly encourage businesses to be proactive with their food and organic waste management. If you have not already done so, look at implementing an on-site organic waste management solution, preferably a in-vessel composting unit. These are clean and highly efficient systems for processing large volumes of organic waste,” says Küsel. “When a new draft strategy is implemented, it will likely bring more stringent organic waste regulations which will place more responsibility on businesses; don’t be caught on the back foot.”

The proposed Draft Strategy for Reducing Food Losses and Waste introduces a holistic approach to sustainable food and organic waste management through the introduction of four strategy goals. These include Goal 1: Creating an enabling environment for the implementation of food losses and waste strategy, Goal 2: Food losses and waste beneficiation and circular economy, Goal 3: Capacity building, education and awareness training, and Goal 4: Food waste diversion and greenhouse gas emission reduction.

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