The low down on Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR)

Section 18 Regulations

As a pro-active response to the growing national concern around waste and its impact on the environment, South Africa published the Section 18 Regulations to the National Environmental Management: Waste Act on 5 November 2020, which refers to the Extended Producer Responsibility aspect of the National Environmental Management Waste Act (NEMWA). The regulations came into effect on 5 May 2021 and reporting against the gazetted targets started in January 2022.

Stringent annual targets have been set by Government for collection and recycling that need to be met over the next five years. Not only will this provide consumers with more convenient recycling facilities, but it will also drive a concerted recovery effort at the pre-consumer or post-industrial phase. 

This new legislation makes Extended Producer Responsibility mandatory for all producers and importers of packaging. It changes how producers, brand owners, retailers and importers design, make, sell and keep their products in the recycling loop.

EPR explained

The EPR regulations are a policy instrument to manage the sustainability of organisations and the financing of waste streams, including discarded packaging and single-use items. These regulations require producers to take responsibility for the entire product lifecycle of identified products, from production, through to its useful life, up to and including the end-of-life stage. The ultimate goal is to reduce waste to landfill and in so doing, protect the environment.

The regulations relate to EPR for a number of industries and products, including the paper and plastics packaging industries. Many businesses are having to adjust their day-to-day operations to meet these new regulations. The new Section 18 regulations are however a welcome step forward towards a more collaborative approach between government and industry and are a major step towards developing a circular economy.

All companies involved in the value chain must work together to ensure that less waste goes to landfill. EPR is a central concept of efficient waste management, referencing the responsibility of manufacturers and importers to take extra care in designing new products for sale, and more importantly, to take the reins when these products can no longer be used in their original form.

The circular economy

Mpact Recycling is focused on developing a true circular economy in our country, where the value of waste is kept within the economy by ensuring that materials are reused and recycled into many new and useful materials.

Mpact has been contributing to EPR by means of a voluntary levy long before it was legislated. The group is registered with the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE), as required by the EPR legislation. Mpact is also an existing member of Packaging SA, Plastics SA and the following Producer Responsibility Organisations (PRO’s):

  • Polyco (HDPE, LDPE, PP, PET, Vinyl, Polystyrene and Multi layers)
  • Polystyrene Association of South Africa - Merged with Polyco
  • Southern African Vinyls Association (SAVA) - Merged with Polyco
  • Vinyl Loop (New vehicle for EPR, under SAVA) – Merged with Polyco

Mpact is able to assist our customers in designing products aligned with EPR requirements. Our Innovation and Design centre focuses on the development of products that drive recycling and innovation and adopts a phased life-cycle approach for all projects. EPR requirements are considered at the feasibility and concept generation stage where the balance between customer requirements and reduction, reuse and recycling is continually evaluated.

Extended producer responsibility is only possible by taking charge of your own operations and its impact on the environment, as well as working with producers who are happy to go about this responsibility with open arms.

For an ‘easy to read’ step-by-step process on what to do next, please refer to Mpact’s EPR journey guide below.

Your next steps in the EPR journey

Step 1: Determine if you are above the threshold
Step 2: Register with the DFFE and with a PRO or establish your own EPR scheme
Step 3: Ensure that your suppliers are registered

For more information please contact us: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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