Drive to build a better world now being adopted in legislation, corporate strategies

27th October 2021 By: Simone Liedtke - Creamer Media Social Media Editor & Senior Writer

There is a need to enhance resource efficiency and increase recycling and the sustainable production of resources, all while limiting the impact of these activities on the environment and reducing waste, says industry association the Consumer Goods Council of South Africa (CGCSA) legal, regulatory and sustainability executive Neo Momadu.

Speaking during a recycling-focused webinar on October 27, Momadu said more people, organisations and governments were pushing for change to build a better world as evidenced by the drive to achieve the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are now being adopted in legislation, regulations and corporate strategies.

However, of particular importance to recycling and the circular economy is SDG 12 – responsible consumption and production.

Momadu explained that the growing South African and global population was “putting extra demand on natural resources” and that production and consumption patterns were continuing to accelerate in an unsustainable way.

This is evidenced through statistics by the UN, which reported that the global material footprint rose from 73.2-billion metric tonnes in 2010, to 85.9-billion metric tonnes in 2017. That was a 17.4% increase since 2010 and a 66.5% increase from 2000.

To address this locally, Momadu said the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE) published draft regulations on extended producer responsibility (EPR) in June 2020 to give effect to Sections 18 and 69 of the National Environmental Management: Waste Act 59 of 2008.

In November last year, and following an extended comment period, the DFFE published the final regulations, the implementation of which was subsequently postponed.

As a result, producers of products now have until November 5 to comply with the requirements of the EPR regulations, including that all producers and producer responsibility organisations (PROs) register with the DFFE.

CGCSA members identified as producers in the EPR regulations, are now expected to facilitate a reverse collection mechanism and the recycling of end-of-life, post-consumer waste.

This, Momadu said, could be done by joining a PRO, forming a PRO or registering as a producer.

However, considering that the EPR regulations were “still very new” to South Africans, Momadu said there was “still a lot to learn”, although this could only happen as the process unfolds.

As such, Momadu mentioned that regulatory certainty, partnerships with government to monitor implementation and the clarification of municipalities’ roles in monitoring household and business waste collection points, would be required to contribute to an EPR environment guided by principles.

Additionally, she said the empowerment of the informal sector had the potential for economic growth, and he urged consumers, citizens and households to support the EPR regulations by returning waste products at the end of their useful life, using the infrastructure that is provided.