ECDC & Gibb | Feasibility Plan for a Hazardous Waste Treatment Facility in the Eastern Region of the Eastern Cape

Feasibility Plan for a Hazardous Waste Treatment Facility in the Eastern Region of the Eastern Cape
J36358 | FINAL Rev 1 | November 2017

Executive Summary

Problem Statement
It has been identified that there is a lack of hazardous waste treatment and disposal facilities in the eastern region of the Eastern Cape. At present hazardous waste is either transported to Port Elizabeth or removed outside the province for treatment or disposal. GIBB was commissioned by the Eastern Cape Development Corporation (ECDC) to undertake a hazardous waste survey of the eastern region of the Eastern Cape to determine the types and quantity of hazardous waste being generated in the area, and to consider the viability of developing a hazardous waste facility in the eastern region.

Hazardous Waste Survey
GIBB undertook an online survey, face-to-face surveys and telephonic interviews with a total of 53 companies in the eastern region to determine their waste stream as well as current waste management practices. The data received from these surveys was used to develop a waste stream profile per industry. This was then applied to unsurveyed companies to determine a hypothetical waste stream for the study area. The hazardous waste survey estimated that 4,448 tonnes of hazardous waste are generated in the study area per annum. The following limitations were noted with the survey:

  • Some companies approached were unwilling to participate in the survey
  • A number of companies are co-disposing of hazardous waste with general waste, and they therefore do not have separate records for hazardous waste
  • A number of companies surveyed do not keep hazardous waste records and so were only able to provide an estimate the volume of hazardous waste generated
  • The units in which hazardous waste was reported varied significantly, and included kilograms, tonnes, volumes, litres and units (e.g. the number of oil filters produced or the number of 210l drums full of hazardous waste)
  • Some companies have only one hazardous waste bin or skip and all hazardous waste is disposed of into the skip. It is not possible to determine the quantities of the different types of waste in such cases
  • Companies were not able to classify waste or provide calorific values or moisture content.

During the hazardous waste survey GIBB engaged with various private waste management companies and undertook a review of data available on the South Africa Waste Information System. Approximately 7,944 tonnes of hazardous waste originating from the Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality (BCMM) is disposed of or treated in Port Elizabeth, this waste is disposed of at private facilities. The difference between the surveyed figure (4,448 tonnes) and the figure reported by waste management companies (7,944 tonnes) may be explained by the limitations listed above.

Hazardous Waste Management Options
Hazardous waste can be managed through treatment, recycling or disposal. Due to the technical complexities involved, the recycling of hazardous waste is not considered as a viable option for the study area. Disposal of waste at landfill, while currently still practiced, is being discouraged by waste legislation. For example the National Norms and Standards for the Assessment of Waste for Landfill Disposal include a list of waste types which are prohibited from being disposed of at landfill. The timeframes for compliance with the norms and standards range from immediate compliance to compliance within the next 15 years. Furthermore, a number of international companies appear to be moving away from landfilling to incineration to achieve “zero waste to landfill” status. For these reasons, GIBB’s recommendation was to purse the option of treating hazardous waste. Based on the varied hazardous waste stream being generated in the study area incineration was selected as the preferred treatment option.

Hazardous Waste Incinerator Costing
Macrotec, a company which designs and engineers incinerators was approached to provide a costing for the incineration of 8,000 tonnes of mixed hazardous waste a year. A breakdown of waste types and quantities was provided to Macrotec to assist them with their quote and technical proposal.
Macrotec recommended that four X500 incinerators be installed to manage the hazardous waste generated in the study area. Each X500 incinerator has a capacity of 280 – 350kg per hour, and the combined capacity is therefore 1,120 – 1,440kg per hour.
The capital costs and operational costs of the X500 incinerators were calculated based on data provided by Macrotec and research.

The lifespan of an X500 incinerator is 20 years. Based on the above annual running cost of the incinerator and an anticipated waste stream of 8,000 tonnes per annum an average minimum gate fee of R 4,935 per ton would be required to breakeven.

The current costs for transport and disposal of hazardous waste in the province were considered to see how these compared to the breakeven point above. Present transport (to Port Elizabeth) and disposal costs (private facilities) were estimated to range from R 3,670 to R 9,500 per tonne, and the average cost for the different waste streams generated in the study area is R 8,300 per tonne. The actual costs do however vary significantly depending on the type of waste (Health care risk waste (HCRW) and pharmaceutical waste are the more expensive hazardous waste streams to manage).

Business Opportunities
Various business opportunities were considered in this report. These include:

  • Gate fees for incineration of hazardous waste. The average gate fee per tonne would be between the breakeven cost (R 4,935/ tonne) and the average current transport and disposal fee to Port Elizabeth (R8,300/ tonne). A full cost accounting exercise would be required to determine the most appropriate exact gate fees and would be dependent on the type of hazardous waste and the required profit margin.
  • Sale of bottom ash as a construction material. In Europe between 20 – 98% of ash from municipal waste incinerators is re-used as a construction material. If the composition of ash is suitable for re-use as a construction material it could be sold to the construction industry. Sale of ash would have an added benefit in that the ash would not need to transported to landfill site for disposal and landfill site gate fees would be avoided. The ash from a hazardous waste incinerator would however need to be classified to determine if it is suitable for such use.
  • Sale of heat and electricity. A waste incinerator creates heat, which can be used to heat water or to produce electricity. Hot water can be piped directly to industry, which requires hot water for production processes. Electricity can be sold to surrounding industry.

Legislative Requirements for a Hazardous Waste Incinerator
Various permits and licenses are required for the construction and operation of a hazardous waste incinerator. These include but are not limited to:

  • Waste management license
  • Environmental authorisation
  • Air Emissions License.

A hazardous waste incinerator may also be required to register in terms of the National Norms and Standards for the Storage of Waste and would be required to comply with the National Waste Information Regulations.

Way Forward
This investigation has considered hazardous waste management in the eastern region of the Eastern Cape and has investigated business options at only a broad level. The following planning tasks should be considered should the proponent wish to progress the option of incineration:
1. Further investigation of the business case. A full cost accounting approach should be used in the development of a detailed business plan and costing model.
2. Site selection. A formal selection process, which considers the strength and weaknesses of candidate sites, would need to be undertaken.
3. Legal compliance review: All legal permitting requirements, including environmental requirements, would need to be screened for the site in question.

Based on the estimated waste stream of the study area and the costs to capital and operational costs of incinerators it appears that it would be commercially viable to investigate the option of installing hazardous waste incinerators in East London. The lifespan of incinerators is 20 years and so the capital costs of the incinerators would be paid off over this period.


For any queries please contact :

Pierre Leppan: ECDC – East London <>
Sector Specialist: Investment Promotion & Packaging

Mervin Olivier: Gibb Technical Executive <>

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