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EPR Plan – Industry Update

Packaging SA, Plastics SA, the various PRO’s and other interested parties have been engaging with Government over the past 9 months regarding the proposed Section 18 notice.

 

Section 18 refers to the Extended Producer Responsibility aspect of the National Environmental Management Waste Act (NEMWA) and essentially replaces Section 28 (Industry Waste Management Plans) from 2017. Whilst both Section 18 and Section 28 essentially cover Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) and material recovery, we welcomed the adoption of a Section 18 process as it allows industry to raise, manage and disburse EPR fees themselves.

 

WHERE ARE WE NOW

On 26 June 2020 the Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF), Ms. Barbara Creecy, published an amendment to the National Environmental Waste Act in the form of draft Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) regulations. Members of the public and industry were given 30 days to comment and revert back to her with objections or suggested changes.

Once promulgated, the EPR Plan will substantially change the regulatory environment in South Africa, not only for producers and users of packaging, but for our various Producer Responsibility Organisations, i.e. PETCO, Polyco, the Southern African Vinyls Association (SAVA) and the Polystyrene Association of SA.

It will be the responsibility of the various Producer Responsibility Organisations (PRO’s) to drive sector based waste minimisation programmes, manage financial arrangements for funds to promote the reduction, re-use, recycling and recovery of waste; drive awareness programmes and innovate new measures to reduce the potential impact of products on health and the environment.

EXPECTED TIME FRAME FOR IMPLEMENTATION

Once approved and promulgated, producers and PRO’s will have 6 months to become compliant. However, the Minister has made it clear that she wants to implement the new regulations as soon as possible, and there is talk that it could be in place as soon as the fourth quarter of 2020. It is likely that the targets for the 1st year and reporting requirements will commence at the beginning of 2021. As currently drafted, the requirements essentially come into effect on the date of publication of the final notice, which could be as early as September 2020.

 

FOCUS AREAS FOR THE SA PLASTICS INDUSTRY

Of particular concern to us is ensuring that the final Section 18 notice is practical, reasonable and applicable to the South African context.

 

UNLOCKING THE HIDDEN VALUE OF WASTE

It is crucial that targets that are being set for the collection and recycling of the various forms of plastic, are based on the South African scenario, include local data, use our own best practice models and build on the successes that our existing PRO’s have already achieved.

A staggering 70% of the plastics that recycled in South Africa, are still obtained from landfill and other post-consumer sources.

34 % of South Africans do not have access to any waste management services. Waste management infrastructure needs to be put in place by municipalities throughout SA where concerned citizens can participate and which can deal with recyclable as well as non-recyclable waste.

Recyclables are a valuable resource and should be removed from the solid waste stream before reaching landfill where they become contaminated and extraction costly. Separation-at-source, whereby recyclable materials are separated from non-recyclables, is therefore a key success factor for all recycling.

The plastics industry is fully committed to cooperate with Government as we work to clarify the issues of concern.

For those producers who have not yet signed up to a PRO, you are advised and encouraged to join without delay. Not only will this ensure that your company is compliant and meet the obligations under the new legislation, but your input and contributions during this development stage of the game are much needed and could help to shape our industry focus and activities for many years to come.

For more information, kindly email Anton.Hanekom@plasticssa.co.za