Talbot & Talbot has invested nearly R10 million over the last 18 months into developing its new state-of-the-art Organics Laboratory. The Laboratory is set to open up new services and capabilities in the waste, contaminated land and water sectors. Micole Martens, operations manager: Laboratories, Talbot & Talbot, discusses the company’s new venture.

Could you give us an overview of how the organics laboratory came about?

MM Historically, Talbot Laboratories has had a reputation for providing quality inorganic and microbiological analyses in-house. All organics analyses were subcontracted to reputable peer laboratories. Over the years, the demand for higher- value organics analyses grew exponentially so the transition into the realm of organics analysis was inevitable. The initial idea of developing in-house organics capabilities started in 2010 but the realisation of the organics facility only came in 2017.

Prior to the launch, Talbot & Talbot mentioned that the facility would open new services and capabilities in the waste, contaminated land and water sectors. Could you elaborate on this?

The new organics facility extends the scope of Talbot Laboratories’ organics testing to include testing for the legislative requirements for disposal of waste to landfill and contaminated land (NEMWA, No. 59 of 2008). The new capabilities include a unique service offering of advising clients and providing them with a waste assessment report, together with a safety data sheet and classification.

Why is a facility like this important to the South African waste sector and the country as a whole?

It allows testing that was previously outsourced to be done in-house at significantly reduced turnaround times and lower costs. Talbot Laboratories prides itself on quality and the ability to analyse samples regardless of the sample matrix. Laboratories with the capability of analysing waste streams in accordance with local norms and standards benefits the waste sector and country by supporting the timeous and legal disposal of hazardous wastes. Talbot & Talbot also offers treatment solutions for waste streams to help minimise or exclude disposal to landfill.

Which industries will benefit from the new organics laboratory, and how?

This facility will be beneficial to almost every sector requiring organics analyses – in particular the environmental, food and beverage, and agricultural sectors. Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry provides capabilities for testing pollution incident samples against a National Institute of Standards and Technology library of millions of organic compounds.

What is the one piece of advice or information about biomass or organic waste that you wish more people in the industry knew?
Biomass has a wide array of uses, including directly to generate heat or electricity with a steam turbine. Biomass can also be used to make methane gas, biodiesel and other biofuels. It is renewable, carbon-neutral, cost effective and abundant, and its advantages outweigh its disadvantages.

As South Africa runs out of landfill airspace, what role will science and technology play in combating this problem?

The innovative technology and methods being researched and developed can only escalate the positive impact to reduce volumes to landfill. Facilities such as these and the ability to analyse diverse samples for various analytes can only assist this process.


(as featured in ReSource, November 2018)