Geocycle: a key role in creating a zero-waste future

The Geocycle management and processing services embrace an extensive variety of waste streams such as used tyres.


Recently launched in South Africa, Geocycle is the global waste treatment and management operation of the LafargeHolcim Group
Realising that a key process for solving the problem of hazardous waste was to consume it in cement plant kilns as alternative fuel, the Group established Geocycle more than 30 years ago. The services it offers cover the management and processing of non-hazardous and hazardous waste streams such as tyres, industrial waste, municipal waste, waste oil and other sludges, biomass, pharmaceuticals and solvents.

Geocycle has evolved into a leading provider of municipal, industrial and agricultural environmental management services with a presence in 61 countries and over 10 000 customers worldwide. The company today is renowned for its responsible management of more than 14 million tons of waste each year. It is playing a significant role in preserving natural resources, minimising the health hazards associated with waste, and reducing the carbon footprint of waste.

A massive escalating problem

Globally, it is estimated that approximately 4 billion tons of waste are generated every year and South Africa alone produces 108 million tons. It is a massive and rapidly escalating environmental problem with currently 49% disposed of in landfills and with controlled dumping, while 30% is not collected and merely finds its way onto open dumps or is burnt. Only 13% is recycled and 8% is used for energy recovery or incineration. The waste problem consumes 80 km2 of land for landfills every year.

“It is difficult to visualise the impact of such large numbers,” says Brent Mahoney, Geocycle South Africa General Manager. “To give an idea of the land that is being consumed through landfills and controlled dumping, one of the biggest dumpsites in the world at 136 hectares is in Brazil: this equates to almost 200 football pitches!”

The co-processing solution

The process that Geocycle has developed for hazardous waste is called ‘co-processing’, the careful introduction of it to a cement kiln as Alternative Fuel (or AFR) to replace natural fuel resources such as coal, oil and gas. The emphasis is on ‘carefully’ as the waste has to be sorted, blended and ‘pre-processed’ before introduction to the kiln to ensure tight quality control.

Conditions in a kiln are ideal for the safe and total destruction of the waste stream because gas in the kiln reaches 1800°C compared with a conventional incinerator having temperatures of 800 °C or 900°C. Also, the waste is exposed to these conditions for a longer residence time.

While co-processing as an Alternative Fuel is a critical solution for diverting hazardous waste from landfill sites and dumps, it is only part of the extensive service offered by Geocycle, which incorporates a full needs assessment, waste collection and transportation, laboratory analyses and pretreatment. The waste is separated into material suitable for recycling such as certain plastics and glass, and AFRs, as well as alternative raw materials (ARMs) for cement manufacture.

Committed to address waste beneficiation in South Africa

First and foremost, Geocycle offers a sustainable solution to the South African economy’s waste problems, in line with local legislation and as per the promulgated banning requirements (August 2013 base year). The Waste Classification and Management Regulations and supporting Norms & Standards Disposal Requirements for waste prohibited or restricted in terms of disposal compliance for hazardous waste with a calorific value greater than 25 MJ/kg (23 August 2017).

Geocycle has a Waste Management Licence issued by the Department of Environmental Affairs and is a member of the Institute of Waste Management of Southern Africa (IWMSA), a multidisciplinary non-profit association that is committed to supporting professional waste management practices.

“Geocycle is ready and has the international experience to be a trusted partner in ensuring compliance on waste management and a leader for landfill diversion procedures in South Africa,” says Mahoney. “At Geocycle, we have a passion for health, safety, the environment and landfill diversion at the heart of everything we do. Our mission is to offer well-proven solutions for landfill diversion and for working towards a better, zero-waste future.”

For further information, please contact:

Brent Mahoney at Geocycle South Africa:

011 657 2390

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Issue 39