South African Journal of Science
On-line version ISSN 1996-7489
Print version ISSN 0038-2353
The legal definition of waste can often be vague and dependent on factors other than the composition or possible after-use of the material. The European Court of Justice has stated that the term 'waste', in European Union legislation, implies 'discard'. In South Africa, there is currently more than one legal definition of waste. This not only complicates the classification of material as waste, but also creates confusion amongst industry and government dealing with waste management issues. This hinders the successful implementation of the waste hierarchy that aims at diverting waste away from landfill by promoting sustainable waste recycling and re-use. The aim of this paper is to provide a critical analysis of the definition of waste and the shift to waste as resource, and the implications thereof for the implementation of government policies, strategies and legislation on waste re-use and recycling. Special emphasis is placed on the South African situation where new waste legislation is currently under development.