Waste Disposal And Recycling Permits Under The Environment Management Act

Introduction
1. The Department of Environment (“DoE”) has launched the first of a series of campaigns to enforce compliance with the Environment Management Act 2005 (“EMA”) and the Regulations made under it.  If your business has not yet applied for and obtained the necessary permits you are likely to be issued with a default notice and an application form for the permits the DoE believes you should apply for.

2. The purpose of this Alert is to give you some background on the current campaign and what you should be applying for.

Background
3. The EMA was passed by Parliament in 2005. It came into force on 1 January 2008. Also coming into force at the same time were the

(a) Environment Management (Waste Disposal & Recycling) Regulations 2007 (“Waste Regulations”) and

(b) Environment Management (EIA Process) Regulations 2007 (“EIA Regulations”).

4. Broadly, the EMA and Regulations regulate existing commercial and industrial facilities and future development activities. Accordingly:

(a) the Waste Regulations are important to understand for existing commercial and industrial facilities and

(b) the EIA Regulations are important to understand for new and further development activities.

The DoE’s current campaign relates to the Waste Regulations. This is where this Alert is concentrated.

Waste Disposal Permits
5. The EMA and the Waste Regulations require every commercial or industrial facility that disposes or discharges wastes or pollutants from any of its premises to hold a permit. This permit is not required if waste is disposed through a town or city council rubbish collection; through a septic tank at the site of the facility or through a sewer that serves the facility.

6. The types of waste permit issued by the Department include:

(a) solid waste permit (for any waste in solid or semisolid form, including garbage, refuse or rubbish, sludge, white goods, packaging waste and other discarded material including any contained liquid or gaseous material remaining from industrial and commercial activities).

(b) liquid waste permit (for any waste in liquid form, including wastewater, sewerage, sludge from septic tanks, sewerage and treatment plants)

(c) livestock waste permit (for any waste generated by livestock)

(d) air pollution permit (in the case of air pollution generated by incinerators or regular burning or emissions from any industrial activity).

Businesses who recycle, handle hazardous materials and transport and dispose of wastes are also required to obtain specific permits, but these are not detailed here.

How to apply for a permit
7. To obtain a permit, a facility owner must submit a written application to the DoE’s Waste and Pollution Control (“WPC”) Administrator. The application form is attached. It must be accompanied by a fee of $100 VIP (not F$75 as stated on the application form).

8. The DoE’s stance is that any facility discharging any of the wastes mentioned in 6 above must apply to the DoE whether it believes itself to be exempted or not. Only after processing the application will DoE confirm whether an applicant is exempt. We do not believe that this is the correct regulatory approach, but it may be less time-consuming and expensive to comply nonetheless.

Compliance campaigns
9. The purpose of the current DoE compliance campaign (including the issuing of non-compliance notices) appears to be to raise awareness and prompt businesses covered by the Act and Regulations to apply for the necessary permits. However there are severe penalties (up to F$100,000) for non-compliance, and these should not be ignored.

More information
10. For further information on the matters set out in this Alert, please contact Nick Barnes (Partner) or the lawyer at Munro Leys with whom you normally deal.

Disclaimer

The information and opinions in this Legal Alert are for general information purposes only. They are not intended as specific legal or other professional advice and should not be relied upon or treated as a substitute for specific advice. Munro Leys can accept no responsibility for any loss arising from reliance on the general information contained in this Legal Alert.

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