The Minister of Environmental Affairs, Dr Edna Molewa, has assured South Africans that all foodstuffs potentially contaminated with Listeria will be safely disposed of.
The contaminated waste may be accepted for treatment at a licensed incineration, non-burn or co-processing facility, or may be accepted for disposal at a Class A landfill. Class A landfills are specially designed and engineered for acceptance of hazardous waste and are not accessible for waste picking.
Any condition of the respective waste management licence of the receiving facility that may prohibit receipt of such waste will be suspended until such time as all of this waste has been treated and/or disposed of.
Measures to prevent any negative consequence of the disposal of these products have been put in place. Waste treatment and disposal facilities are aware of these measures, as are provincial and municipal authorities.
Meanwhile, provincial departments of environment, municipal environmental health practitioners and officials of the National Department of Environmental Affairs continue to create awareness among waste pickers regarding the risks associated with the contaminated waste.
Molewa points out that the recall initially caused some panic and residents ended up throwing their food products into their normal domestic waste bins, and it then ended up on municipal landfills.
“As we know, with the high levels of waste picking in the country, we could have waste pickers accessing the contaminated food if this food ends up in waste disposal facilities accessible to this group of vulnerable people,” she says.
The new measures will ensure that there is enough capacity in the country to timeously dispose of the infected waste, and remove the possibility of the infected waste being accessed through waste picking activities.