Integrated waste management

The value of waste currently lost to South Africa’s economy through landfilling is estimated to be in excess of R17 billion per annum.  Combined with the high unemployment in South Africa, the waste sector has been identified in both national and provincial strategy and policy documents, as a sector which can contribute towards the country’s economic growth and job creation.  As a young economic sector, with an estimated turnover of at least R15.3 billion per annum, this sector has the potential to grow to at least twice this size, through strong government and private sector investment. 

In developing countries like South Africa, many waste management technologies fail not because of problems with the technology, but rather due to policy, institutional, economic or social limitations.  In this regard, research can play a fundamental role in evidence-based policy development and implementation, as well as decision-making.

Through directed research, the CSIR explores the required government, industry and societal changes necessary to alter unsustainable production and consumption patterns and, in so doing, decouple economic development and waste generation and associated impacts of pollution.

The CSIR provides evidence for decision-making on integrated waste management. This includes integrated waste management involving best practice, waste policy and governance; waste innovation that provides opportunities for technological and social innovation; waste behaviour – investigating human behaviour towards recycling and waste picking; resource economics – investigating economic instruments for possible application in South Africa and determining the true costs of waste management; and waste information management involving the quantification and modelling of waste streams.