The organic waste landfill ban is around the corner: Are we ready?

The Western Cape is half a year away from the 2022 target to divert at least 50% of all organic waste from landfill. So the big question is, can the Western Cape divert at least 50% of 533 745 tonnes of municipal organic waste and 326 935 of commercial organic waste? With organic waste regulations also tightening at a national level, the rest of the country will also need to get their organic waste management in order.

BiobiN South Africa looks at some key initiatives that will work in favour of an organic waste landfill diversion.

“It is now increasingly important that we look at waste diversion technology and ways to create a secondary resource economy with organic waste,” says Brian Küsel, director of BiobiN SA. “Organic waste in landfill is problematic but can be valuable when processed correctly.”

Improving commercial and industrial composting

The largest volumes of organic waste are generated at a commercial level, specifically within retail, agriculture and hospitality. These sectors are subject to stringent waste regulations, and for the most part, businesses opt to use licensed waste management service providers to collect waste and process it off-site at a processing or disposal facility.

On-site commercial composting units are designed to process large volumes of organic waste. They are designed for ease of use, cleanliness and to remove unwanted elements, like bacteria and pathogens.

“On-site units like BiobiN are not like a standard composting system used within homes. Through containment, and a well-designed air induction system, these units can process high protein contents and a wide range of animal derived products produced at a commercial level,” says Küsel.

Address our food waste issue

Food waste makes up a huge segment of the organic waste stream that is generated, and South Africa generates a lot of food waste across the supply chain. “We often talk about “farm-to-fork”, to look at the different stages of the food supply chain to see where we can reduce wastage,” says Küsel.

At a food production level (farming) – 2.7 million tonnes go to waste, during storage – 2.4 million tonnes go to waste, during processing and packaging – 2.6 million tonnes, during transport and distribution – 2 million, and at the post-consumption phase – 0.5 million tonnes.

“Ultimately, to reduce food waste along supply-chain, industry needs to look at initiatives that redistribute the edible food surplus, better packaging design and in-store composting in retail,” says Küsel. “These initiatives will also reduce the food waste stream going to landfill.”

Promoting a waste economy

“There are several market drivers that promote the diversion of organic waste from landfill,” says Küsel. “For one, waste regulations for on-site composting are a lot more lenient compared to other waste treatment and disposal methods. A business can compost up to 500kg of organic waste per day and 15 tonnes per month before having to obtain a waste licence.”

Composting activities also play a significant role with carbon tax regulations; businesses can gain carbon credits by composting, reducing any carbon tax liabilities in the future.

The type of compost produced from the organic waste processed by a BiobiN is a high-grade soil amendment product, which can be sold, offering another income generating opportunity. It is technology like this that focuses on extracting value from a waste stream like organics, creating a ‘secondary resource’ and a circular waste economy. With an organic waste ban around the corner, this model will become more prevalent in South Africa.

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