Cape Town - New regulations gazetted for plastic retailers will ensure full responsibility is taken for their consumed products and the impact they will have on the environment.
The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) expressed its support for the new regulations by the Department of the Environment, Forestry and Fisheries which was finalised last week.
The regulations will allow for a mandatory Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) for sectors of lighting, electronic equipment, paper and packaging.
“This means they will be responsible for collecting, reusing, recycling, disposing of and packaging products in a sustainable manner.
WWF Circular Plastics project manager Lorren de Kock said: “Retailers and brand owners are the largest consumers of plastic packaging in the fast-moving consumer goods sector. Once the consumer has used the product the packaging is discarded.
“The problem is many consumers don’t have regular waste collection of general mixed waste and even less for recyclable waste, don’t have bins for separation at source and most collected waste simply goes to landfill, the main waste treatment technology available.”
She said the waste sector and plastic recyclers are vulnerable in the system as they are highly dependent on end markets for the recycled plastic which cannot compete with the low price of virgin plastic due to the low oil price.
“Plastic producers, packaging manufacturers and retailers have been insufficient to bridge the gap between the increasing packaging volumes placed on the market and the waste activities required to properly collect, sort and recycle this packaging so it doesn’t land up in landfills,” she said.
Environment, Forestry and Fisheries Barbara Creecy stated in the gazette: “All producers must record and report, as a minimum on an annual basis to the South African Waste Information System the quantities of waste in tons, resulting from the identified products that are generated, collected, diverted away from landfill (recycled, reused, recovered, refurbished), exported and disposed.”
De Kock said: “The regulated EPR is a first step to ensure this support for the sector follows international best practice by making producers and companies placing packaging on the market responsible for end-of-life management of that packaging.”