Your waste, your responsibility

Belinda Berry with Janine Wilson, the chair of the seminar committee at Coschem

Coschem held a lecture evening on 22 July 2015 on the topic of Hazardous waste management in South Africa. The talk outlined the steps cosmetics manufacturers should take to ensure they comply with legislation surrounding the responsible management of their waste streams.

The cosmetics industry is a generator of both general and hazardous waste. As is the case with all other industrial sectors, personal care manufacturers must ensure that they handle refuse in a legally compliant way.

Belinda Berry, director of the waste management advisory company, ConnectMe, explains general waste normally includes items such as used packaging. Cosmetics companies’ hazardous waste typically consists of washings from reactors, expired or off-spec formulations, contaminated items, oily and medical waste, and waste solvents.

Know the legislation

While waste management in South Africa is governed by a long list of laws and policies, Berry points to the following legislative documents that are of primary importance to the cosmetics industry:

  • The National Environmental Management Act 107 of 1998
  • The National Environmental Management Laws Amendment Act 25 of 2014
  • NEM: Waste Act (NEM:WA) 59 of 2008 and the Amendment Act of 2014, Regulations and Norms and Standards of NEM:WA
  • The National Road Transport Act, 93 of 1996 and SANS codes.

The legislation requires manufacturers to have various processes and procedures in place to responsibly manage waste. According to Berry, the first step that a cosmetics company should take to comply is to register as a generator of waste with the South African Waste Information System.

The next step would be for the business to implement the waste hierarchy. This requires the company to consider the best possible ways of addressing its waste. The business should ideally also audit its waste management service provider and its entire cradle-to-grave chain to ensure the waste is handled, transported and managed within all legal requirements.

A proactive approach

Innovation is required from cosmetics producers in order to comply with the myriad of legislative requirements related to waste management. Berry’s suggestion is that companies should make an effort to formulate with less hazardous ingredients and use more sustainable packaging.

Find out more about upcoming evening lectures and morning refreshers by emailing Bridget MacDonald on

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