When we start to look at the food and organic waste stream as a secondary resource that has economic value, we change our perception of this waste type from something burdensome that will be expensive to landfill to something that is economical. When we start to consider that food and organic waste is actually recyclable, we can see that there is an entire economic value chain for this waste stream. The impending organic waste landfill ban in the Western Cape in 2027 is also accelerating the development of the organic waste secondary market and with this development, more businesses are implementing ways to extract value from their organic waste stream.
At the forefront of the growth in the organics market, BiobiN South Africa has been working with businesses of all sizes to install on-site organic waste composting units.
“It’s more than just compliance considerations; organic waste recycling and beneficiation is financially benefitting businesses more so than ever before,” says Brian Küsel, director of BiobiN South Africa. “There is a shift towards developing large scale regional composting operations in South Africa. This is in response to very lenient composting waste regulations making it very easy to start a composting business. Over the next few years, leading up to 2027, we will be seeing more businesses composting organic waste streams, which will also support the development of the composting market.”
According to waste market research in 2022, if the Western Cape were to adopt composting as the approach to beneficiate the food and organic waste stream, the market value potential would range from R34 million to R914 million in soil amendment products. Out of all the alternative waste treatment (AWT) technologies and processes, composting presents a very economically attractive model for diverting organic waste from landfill. Biogas treatment offers a potential market value range of R16.7 million to a highly optimistic R253.3 million in electricity or heat. Black soldier fly treatment also offers a highly lucrative potential market value range of R622.2 million to R3.1 billion in protein, oils and soil enhancing related products.
“To fully capture this economic opportunity businesses that generate high volumes of food and organic waste should start looking at their waste infrastructure to streamline the cost of transport, processing and generating the secondary product,” says Küsel. “Designing and implementing an on-site waste processing system, that may include technology like a materials recovery facility (MRF) and on-site composting units, can reduce off-site processing costs and transport costs. It can also get your secondary resource quicker to market,” adds Küsel.
With organic waste landfill regulations becoming tighter leading up to 2027, the cost of landfilling organic waste will increase. With very lenient regulations around organic waste composting, this is becoming the most financially feasible methods for processing food and organic waste.