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EPR is here. Have you joined a producer responsibility organisation yet?

As of 5 May 2021, extended producer responsibility (EPR) is now compulsory for all producers and importers of identified products. The recently promulgated and amended regulations under Section 18 of the National Environmental Management: Waste Act require companies to take practical and financial responsibility for the end-of-life of any product they put on to the South African market.

| Fibre Circle

The purpose behind these regulations is three-fold:

1.     to provide the framework for the development, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of extended producer responsibility schemes by producers in terms of section 18 of the Act;

2.     to ensure the effective and efficient management of the identified product at the end of its life; and

3.     to encourage and enable the implementation of the circular economy initiatives.


“EPR will therefore change how producers, brand owners, retailers and importers design, make, sell and keep their products in the recycling loop as far as practically possible,” says Francois Marais, general manager of Fibre Circle, the producer responsibility organisation (PRO) for the paper and paper packaging sector.

The paper products included in the new regulations are newspapers, magazines, office, graphic, mixed and other papers, corrugated cases and kraft paper, liquid board packaging (beverage cartons and cups), label backing paper and paper sacks. Each of these categories has been set yearly collection and recycling targets for the next five years.

“For many years, the recovery and recycling of paper and paper packaging has been voluntary and largely industry-driven, through strategic recovery initiatives, school recycling programmes and awareness campaigns,” says Marais, adding that South Africa has averaged an annual paper recovery rate of 71% over the past four years.

Any South African company or brand that makes or imports paper, packaging and some single use products for distribution is required to pay an EPR fee per sales tonne of product.

The regulations also make the producer or group of producers responsible for the establishment of an EPR scheme, the development and implementation of an EPR plan and compliance against each product’s targets for recovery and recycling.

Marais adds that while the new EPR legislation allows for producers to establish their own EPR scheme, it is more sensible to join an existing scheme that has been established by a recognised and registered producer responsibility organisation. “We advise companies and brand owners against going it alone as this could become more onerous and costly.”

“By joining an EPR scheme under a PRO such as Fibre Circle, your interests can be collectively represented, while helping member companies in similar product classes to identify shared constraints and opportunities for collaboration and optimisation among member companies, municipalities, other PROs and the informal sector.”

“EPR will see an investment in collection infrastructure, not only providing consumers with more convenient recycling facilities, but also a concerted recovery effort at the pre-consumer or post-industrial phase. Intensive consumer awareness campaigns will also help to drive behaviour change,” he adds.

Since early 2019, the majority of paper and paper packaging manufacturers have paid voluntary EPR fees to Fibre Circle. “We are making our circle bigger to reduce the burden on the environment, take responsibility for our products and support a thriving circular economy,” Marais concludes.


Read more | Original article 

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