The development of a Section 18 EPR Plan – Emphasis on the role and responsibilities of PRO’s

As most of you are no doubt aware, Packaging SA, Plastics/SA, the various PRO’s and other interested parties have been engaging with Government over the past nine months regarding the proposed Section 18 notice.

Section 18 refers to the Extended Producer Responsibility EPR) 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 EPR and material recovery, the plastics industry has welcomed the adoption of a Section 18 process as it allows industry to raise, manage and disburse EPR fees themselves,” comments Anton Hanekom, executive director of Plastics/SA

On 26 June, the Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF), 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 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 six 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 first 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,” Hanekom adds.


Focus areas for the SA plastics industry

He says that whilst the industry understand that the draft is by no means final, there are certain key concerns that will be raising with DEFF when Plastics/SA submits its feedback:

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

“In conclusion, I would like to stress that the plastics industry is fully committed to cooperating with Government as we work to clarify the issues of concern.

“Thank you to everyone who has already been engaging with us directly or through the PRO’s. 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!”