Climate activists such as Greta Thunberg have provided much-needed airtime for the effects we as consumers and business have on the future sustainability and survival of our planet.

“You are never too small to make a difference.” -Greta Thunberg

The value of South Africa’s waste is estimated at R25.2bn a year and according to Packaging SA, 49% of packaging waste is still disposed of in landfills nationwide. Henry Ford was right in saying: “If it doesn’t add value, it’s waste.” With this in mind, the South African Government is forcing producers to unlock value from the waste their products produce to ensure a greener future for all.

On 5 November 2020, The Regulations Regarding Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) were published under the National Environmental Management: Waste Act (NEMWA) (Act 59 of 2008). The Extended Producer Responsibility Scheme for Paper, Packaging and Some Single-Use Products was also published.

Whilst the regulation is needed, it’s come into effect during dire economic conditions still resulting from COVID-19 leading to an extension by The Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, Ms Barbara Creecy, to 5 May 2021.

The extension has come as a relief to hard-hit industries. However, businesses cannot delay action any further.  Producers need to identify new technologies, methods, processes and opportunities for the collection, reuse, recycling, recovery, and disposal (post-consumer stage) of the waste of their products to reduce the effect it has on the environment.

The augmentation of the waste value chain will require significant capital from both the private and public sector and it is envisaged that incentives such as the Jobs Fund, Section 12J Tax incentives and The Black Industrialist Scheme will form the bedrock of this shift and capitalization.

Strategically leveraging various development funds, incentives, policies (including Supplier and Enterprise Development under the B-BBEE Codes) and regulations have become key in an age where balance sheets have been severely and negatively affected. Now’s the time to investigate these opportunities before the extensions cease and businesses are caught with (too much of) their waste in the landfills.

The full list of products and targets can be found in the gazette here. Get in touch with us to help you navigate the transition to “valuable waste”.