The Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries has published draft amendments to the regulations on Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) in the Waste Sector for public comment by April 22.
Implementation of the EPR Regulations, published in November last year, was postponed to May 5 this year to address concerns raised by affected producers.
The regulations apply to the electrical and electronic equipment, lighting, paper and packaging and some single-use product sectors.
They outline a new approach to waste management in South Africa and will contribute significantly to the diversion of waste from landfill. This will increase the recycling rate and expand the circular economy, thus achieving some of the aims of the National Waste Management Strategy published in 2020.
As a means through which the manufacturers and importers of products are required to bear responsibility for the impact their products have on the environment, EPR ensures that those products are either recycled or up-cycled, and that waste products disposed at landfill is kept at a minimum.
The proposed amended regulations provide for collaboration by producers of identified products with the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition, to develop a Broad-based Black Economic Empowerment Charter for the relevant value chains within two years of publication of the notice.
The charter must include a special focus on women, youth and people living with disabilities.
The proposal provides the framework for the development, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of EPR schemes by producers as part of the country’s post-consumer stage waste management strategy.
This means that producers, or a class of producers, including brand owners, will be required to set up procedures and processes and invest resources to implement the EPR measures with regard to the management of waste generated by their industries.
This includes lightbulbs, batteries, solar panels, single-use products, vinyl, metal and glass packaging, vehicle lights, laser lighting, toys, television and computer screens, and a variety of domestic appliances.
Section 18 of the National Environmental Management: Waste Act requires that affected producers be specifically consulted with regard to the implementation of the regulations as they are the developers and implementers of the schemes. They are required to register with the department.