With 59 million people in South Africa, there is enormous pressure to reduce the amount of packaging waste sent to our country’s landfills or which ends up as visible litter in the environment.
In response to the national concern around waste and its impact on society and the environment, the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE) published the Section 18 Regulations to the National Environmental Management: Waste Act on 5 November 2020.
The regulations ensure that products are managed correctly be it through recycling, upcycling, etc. This means that waste products sent to landfill are kept to a minimum, fulfilling the Waste Management Strategy 2020 goal of creating a circular economy.
This refers to the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) aspect of the National Environmental Management Waste Act (NEMWA). The regulations came into effect on 5 May 2021 and reporting against the gazetted targets started in January
Strict annual targets have been set by Government for collection and recycling that need to be met over the next five years. Not only will this result in the provision of more convenient recycling facilities, but it will also drive a
concerted recovery effort at the post-consumer phase.
The legislation makes EPR mandatory for all producers and importers of packaging putting more than 10 tonnes into the market. It changes how producers, brand owners, retailers and importers design, make, sell and keep their products in
the recycling loop as far as is practicably possible.
It is also now compulsory for producers to belong to a Producer Responsibility Organisation (PRO) or to form their own independent EPR scheme if they choose not to join a PRO to demonstrate their Extended Producer Responsibility.
Understanding the obligations of Section 18
Taking practical or financial responsibility for the disposal of one’s products is no longer a nice-to-have or a tick-box exercise.
All existing producers of identified products, at the time the Section 18 regulations came into effect in January 2022, were required to register with the DFFE by 5 November 2021, by completing an online registration process.
All new producers of identified products, who commence producing after the regulations come into effect, should register with the department within three months of being established via the South African Waste Information Centre website
The EPR Regulations apply to:
- Identified products in terms of section 18 (1) (a) of the Act and to the producers of those identified products published in the Government Gazette by the Minister;
- Identified products in terms of section 18 (1) (a) of the Act and to the producers of those identified products published in the Government Gazette by the Minister, that were placed on the market prior to these Regulations coming
The regulations do not apply to the identified products in terms of section 18 (1) (a) of the Act and to the producers of those identified products published in the Government Gazette by the Minister, to that portion which is exported
only or that produce the identified products for export purposes only.
The producer of a product or class of products, as identified by the Minister in terms of section 18 (1) of the Act, must:
- Establish and implement an extended producer responsibility scheme (see obligations in sections 5B, 6, 7A, 8, 9 of the regulations).
- Register with a PRO; or
- Join another extended producer responsibility scheme (see section 5A (obligations), 6 (requirements), 7 (finances), 8 (reporting), 9 (review) of the regulations).
- The PRO must complete a form and register with the Department, and must be:
- An autonomous body and follow due process;
- Registered as a not-for-profit company;
- Managed by a board of directors (representatives from producers) ; and
- Comply with the Companies Act 2008 (Act No. 71 of 2008): good corporate governance and management of conflicts of interest.
- Implement environmental labels and declaration for the identified products in accordance with SANS 14021 and SANS 14024 within a period of three years;
- Where specified, implement mandatory take back of their identified products at the end of their lives;
- Collaborate as producers of an identified product to develop a broad-based black economic empowerment transformation charter within two years of the publishing of the Notice;
- Conduct a life cycle assessment, in relation to the identified product, within five years of implementation of their extended producer responsibility scheme;
- Through the life cycle assessment, focus on the (i) minimisation of material used in the identified product; (ii) design of the product to facilitate reuse, recycling or recovery, without compromising the functionality of the
product; and (iii) reduction of environmental toxicity of the resulting postconsumer waste stream.
It is important to note that:
- A person convicted of an offence under these regulations is liable to (a) imprisonment for a period not exceeding 15 years; (b) an appropriate fine; or (c) both a fine and imprisonment.
- A registered producer who does not comply with these regulations may have their registration as contemplated in these regulations revoked and/or be compelled to join another extended producer responsibility scheme.
- A registered producer responsibility organisation that does not comply with the requirements as contemplated in these regulations may have their registration revoked.
Managing waste effectively
Mpact Waste Management is part of the Mpact Group, one of the leading paper and plastics packaging manufacturing businesses in southern Africa as well as the leading recycler of recovered paper and
plastic. Mpact Waste Management assists with tailored waste management solutions for businesses in numerous industry sectors, and no company or facility is too large or too small.
Mpact Waste Management is able to deliver a customisable solution to help businesses dispose of their waste in a responsible manner and, in-so-doing, assist companies in meeting their EPR targets.
As part of the Mpact Group, Mpact Waste Management has the advantage of being able to negotiate best prices for its customers in a very competitive market. It ensures the competitive pricing where possible based on the current market
rate in the region and dependent on the grade and quality of waste supplied.
Mpact Waste Management strives to make economic and environmental sense through closed loop sustainability supply and manufacturing processes. This is vital for companies who support environmental sustainability and place high
importance on conserving resources and optimally managing their waste.
The Mpact Group has been contributing to EPR by means of a voluntary levy long before it was legislated. The group is registered with the DFFE, as required by the EPR legislation. Mpact is also an existing member of Packaging SA,
Plastics SA and the following PROs:
- Polyco (HDPE, LDPE, PP, PET, Vinyl, Polystyrene and Multi layers)
- Polystyrene Association of South Africa – Merged with Polyco
- Southern African Vinyls Association (SAVA) – Merged with Polyco
- VinylLoop (New vehicle for EPR, under SAVA) – Merged with Polyco
For an ‘easy to read’ step-by-step process on what to do next, please refer to Mpact’s EPR journey guide below.
Your next steps in the EPR journey
Step 1: Determine if you are above the threshold.
Step 2: Register with the DFFE and with a PRO or establish your own EPR scheme.
Step 3: Ensure that your suppliers are registered.
For more information please contact: email@example.com