Extended producer responsibility (EPR) legislation is the driving force behind the adoption of collecting, recycling and remanufacturing products as it places a focus on a products’ secondary application. In the field of waste management, EPR is also a strategy that considers the environmental impact of a product throughout its life cycle and aims to increase the degree of product recovery to lower environmental impact.
As a supporter of the circular economy and the DFFE legislation, it is our responsibility to support and encourage registration with the DFFE and the relevant PRO’s. Mpact Plastics has been contributing to EPR, indirectly on your behalf, by means of a voluntary levy, for a number of years and is an existing member of Packaging SA, Plastics SA, SAVA, COPCO and PROs POLYCO and PETCO.
Under the guidance of registered PROs PETCO and POLYCO, the South African packaging and retail industry has taken hands with leading brands to ensure that the entire value chain act responsibly in our joint effort to achieve a circular economy.
The EPR regulations were originally published late in 2020 and industry conversations continued with enthusiasm until the regulation was published on 5 May 2021. Now celebrating its first birthday, we can look forward to 2022 being the first year of implementation, reporting and meeting targets.
Recycling does not begin with collection
Recycling starts with packaging design. Passing the responsibility of recycling to all members in the value chain helps to achieve high environmental standards in terms of product design and ensuring compliance to the ‘design for recyclability’ principles, as set out by the registered PROs. Designing for recyclability is key in ensuring the circular transition for plastic packaging and assist members in making better product design choices. The main objective is to use a substrate that is fit for purpose and do it in such a way that the resultant product is easy to recycle and is compatible with an existing recycling stream.
Let’s talk fees
The EPR fees, submitted to the minister on 5 November 2021, was determined by the PROs and their members in line with the requirements set out in Section 7(3) of the EPR regulations and is based on the polymer grades’ ease of recyclability, weight, recycling demand, cost of raising awareness, auditing and the cost of collection, transport, storage and treatment of collected waste. All ‘producers’*are required to communicate tonnages converted to the respective PROs, together with the amount of product exported so that the PRO can provide the converter with a fee rebate.
What is the target?
The legislation covers glass, metal, paper and plastic packaging. For plastic packaging, the targets vary per product type, as set out in the legislation and covers rigid, flexible multilayer polyolefin packaging, vinyls, polystyrene and PET beverage bottles, oil bottles, thermoformed PET and flexible PET.
If the PROs are monitoring the industry, who’s monitoring the PROs?
No boxes have been left unchecked. Although subjected to performance reviews and accreditation by state authorities to ensure compliance and performance, PROs members should be actively involved in the oversight of their chosen PROs to ensure effective functioning. Being managed by both members and state authorities, PROs that fail to achieve the mandated targets may lose their accreditation, be issued with a fine or even face imprisonment.
We don’t just communicate, we educate. Our university affiliated research team is widely respected for their expert knowledge about EPR schemes. Through this valuable resource, we are able to engage and guide our customers through a journey of EPR compliance. To become compliant, refer to our ‘easy to read’, step-by-step EPR journey guide or contact our expert research team on email@example.com.
To register with the DFFE: http://sawic.environment.gov.za/epr/regindex.php
Become a Petco member: https://petco.co.za/member-portal/become-a-member/
Become a POLYCO member: https://www.polyco.co.za/become-a-member/