The New Waste Act gazetted in November targets a drastic reduction in the amount of waste that enters South Africa’s landfill sites. The new regulations require manufacturers of plastic packaging, electronics, glass bottles and cardboard, among other goods, to include an increasing amount of recycled material in their products. They must also take responsibility for where their products end up.
Under the new Waste Act, which is part of National Environmental Management legislation, “extended producer responsibility” is placed on the manufacturers, distributors and importers of a long list of products, primarily consumer items, including electronic and electrical equipment, as well as metal, steel, tinplate and aluminium products and plastic packaging and products. Lighting products including light bulbs, solar and even car lights are included, as well as paper products like newspapers and magazines.
For many of the products, producers must now make sure that, after consumers have used their goods, the items are collected or returned and then reused or recycled. Producers must work with waste management companies, as well as informal waste collectors, to establish collection and recycling schemes within the next six months. There are also steep collection targets for everything from office paper to PET plastic beverage bottles. More than 70 per cent of these bottles must be collected within a year of the scheme’s launch.
Producers must be registered with the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, must submit regular audits about their schemes and must pay an “extended producer responsibility fee”. Different products also received new targets to include recycled content. They will also have to submit information about the “life cycle” of their products, reduce the consumption of natural resources and show that products are designed to be more environmentally friendly.
– All single-use plastic products – including food packaging, garbage bags, cups and cutlery – must contain eight per cent of recycled material after the first year of the scheme. After five years, this must hit 20 per cent.
– All glass packaging must contain 20 per cent recycled content after the first year, and 50 per cent by the fifth year. Plastic PET beverage bottles must contain 10 per cent of recycled content after a year, and 20 per cent by the fifth year.