The Minister of Forestry, Fisheries, and the Environment published a Notice of Intention to amend the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) Regulations and associated Sector Notices: The Lighting Sector Notice, the Electrical and Electronic Equipment Sector Notice (EEE Sector Notice) and the Paper, Packaging and Single Use Products Sector Notice, on 2 December 2021.The amendment comes after industry-wide stakeholder engagement. Members of the public are encouraged to submit comments on the proposed changes within the next 50 days to the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE). The proposed amendments seek to provide for a “summary audit report”, which must be compiled by the board of directors of the producer company or PRO and must include details relating to the EPR scheme during any particular year. For example, it will need to include the names of the participants/members; total amount of contributions; how funds have been used; volume of identified products collected, recycled, re-used, recovered or used as recyclate content; as well as the number of jobs created. This summary audit report will need to be submitted to the DFFE within 60 days of finalising the annual audit report and will need to be uploaded to the SAWIC website for public access. In addition, a proposed amendment to the timeframe for “Year 1 implementation” has been made, to provide a clear timeframe for the upcoming compliance dates. This means that producers and PROs will need to submit an interim performance report, covering how their schemes have achieved individual targets, to the DFFE by 30 June 2022. Annual performance audit reports, as well as annual external performance audit reports, will need to be submitted to the DFFE by 31 December 2022.
The only proposed amendment to the Lighting Sector Notice relates to the targets for each identified product waste stream. It is proposed that these will apply for a period of five years from the date of the implementation of the EPR Regulations, and no longer from the date of implementation of the EPR schemes. This will also apply to the EEE Sector Notice and Packaging Sector Notice.Importantly, the EEE Sector Notice will clearly exclude: lighting products; and lead acid batteries from its scope of application. This means that portable batteries are now in scope under these proposed changes and EPR obligations will apply to producers of portable batteries. Producers of lead acid car batteries can, once these amendments are finalised, be confident that they do not fall within the ambit of the EPR Regulations. The proposed changes to the Paper & Packaging Sector are minimal. There are two proposed insertions of new definitions, namely “beverages” and “re-use target percentage”. Interestingly, the re-use target percentage applies to producers who place in excess of 100 000 tons of beverage glass packaging on the market annually. In addition, the targets under Annexure 1 to the Notice will be amended. We welcome these changes but are cognisant of the fact that many more amendments may be required for this piece of legislation to truly assist South Africa in transitioning from our current linear relationship with waste management to a circular one.