Electronic Waste Manifest Documents

What does the law say about the validity of the Waste Manifest documents that are issued electronically? 

A Waste Manifest document is a legal requirement prescribed by the Waste Classification and Management Regulations, 2013 under the National Environmental Management: Waste Act 59 of 2008 (NEMWA). Regulation 11 of the Waste Classification and Management Regulations, 2013 requires that:

1. Every holder of hazardous waste must be in possession of a Waste Manifest document containing the relevant information specified in Annexure 22 of the Regulations.

2. Generators of hazardous waste must complete a Waste Manifest document containing the information specified in Annexure 2 for each consignment of waste transported to a waste manager.

3. Waste transporters must not accept hazardous waste for transport, unless the Waste Manifest document accompanies the waste.

4. All transporters of hazardous waste must:

- complete a Waste Manifest document containing the information specified in Annexure 2 of the Regulations for each consignment of waste transported;

- provide the information to the generator before the waste is transported from the premises of the generator; and

- provide the information to the waste manager at the time of delivery of the waste to the facility for a waste management activity.

5. Waste managers must not accept hazardous waste unless the Waste Manifest document accompanies the waste.

6. All managers of hazardous waste must complete the Waste Manifest document with the information specified in Annexure 2 confirming that the waste load has been accepted and that the waste has been managed.

7.All waste generators, transporters and managers must:

  • retain copies, or be able to access copies / records, of the Waste Manifest documentation for a period of at least five years; and
  • make the Waste Manifest documentation available to the Department of Health upon request. 

In all of these obligations pertaining to the Waste Manifest system and documentation, there is no requirement for the original Waste Manifest document to be provided to, or be in the possession of, the generator of the hazardous waste.

It is also permissible for waste generators, transporters and managers to retain copies (not originals), or alternatively be able to access copies or records of the Waste Manifest

documentation via Compass’ Document Management System (DMS) and again, not necessarily the original documents. 

We also need to look at the way Waste Manifest documentation may be issued. In terms of Section 47D of the National Environmental Management Act 107 of 1998 (NEMA), a document under NEMWA (including a Waste Manifest document) may be issued to a company to its registered address or principal place of business by:

  • delivering it by hand,
  • sending it by registered mail,
  • faxing a copy of the document,
  • e-mailing a copy of the document, or
  • posting a copy of the document and must be regarded as having come to the notice of the person, unless the contrary is proved.

Summary:

1. The Waste Classification and Management Regulations, 2013 which require and regulate Waste Manifest systems, do not specify that the generator, transporter or manager of hazardous waste need to be in the possession of original documentation and expressly allow for copies to be retained and produced on demand.

2. Section 47D of NEMA allows for the electronic transmission of the completed Waste Manifest documentation from Compass to its customers.

3. The same then applies to Safe Disposal Certificates, which are not referred to by name in the legislation but which in practice form part of the Waste Manifest documentation typically used to prove disposal at an authorised landfill site.

4. Thus, the electronic copies of the Waste Manifest documents that Compass provides its customers are legally acceptable, as are the e-invoices that Compass issues. An e-invoice that meets the requirements of VATA and the ECTA is a valid tax invoice and should be processed as such on receipt.