Specific waste producers must submit their Waste Management Plans within the next 3 months and existing producers must register with the Minister of Environmental Affairs within 30 days of a new notice published in the Government Gazette.
On 12 August 2016, the Minister of Environmental Affairs, Mrs Edna Molewa published a notice to the Paper and Packaging; Electrical and Electronic Equipment and Lighting Industries to prepare and submit Waste Management Plans for approval under sections 28(1) and 28(5) of the National Environmental Management: Waste Act, 2008 (Act no.59 of 2008), in Government Gazette no: 40207 (download a copy of the Section 28 Notice here).
The call to these industrial sectors follows the Department of Environmental Affairs’ (DEA) commitment made by Minister Molewa during this year’s budget vote in Parliament that “this year we aim to approve and begin the implementation of the three prioritised Industry Waste Management Plans (IWMPs), namely for the Paper and Packaging, Electrical and Electronic and Lighting Industries respectively.”
Promoting waste minimisation, re-use, recycling and recovery
In an effort to fast track effective implementation of the National Environmental Management: Waste Act, 2008 (Act No. 59 of 2008) (NEMWA), the DEA has developed the National Waste Management Strategy, which promotes waste minimisation, re-use, recycling and recovery of waste. This initiative will contribute significantly towards diverting recyclable waste from landfill sites.
The Paper and Packaging; Electrical and Electronic Equipment; and Lighting Plans will follow the Waste Tyre Management Plan which diverts waste tyres away from landfill. The Department of Environmental Affairs views these Plans as one of the co-regulatory mechanisms that will also award industry the opportunity to implement Extended Producer Responsibility.
This legislation has implications for these sectors of the economy.
Key to note are:
- All existing producers (any person engaged in the commercial manufacture, conversion, refurbishment or import of new and or used materials) must register with the Minister within 30 days of the notice.
- All producers must prepare an Industry Waste Management Plan (IWMP) or be part of a submission.
- Plans must be submitted in 3 months – this publishing the Plan and affording stakeholders 30 days to comment.
- A producer who fails to register or submit a Plan, or fails to belong to a Plan will be guilty of an offence – severe penalties include fines and imprisonment.
Recycling industry alleviates environmental threats
The importance of this Notice and the subsequent action that will be prompted by it cannot be overstated. The waste recycling economy is an exciting opportunity that will not only help to alleviate the threats to environmental integrity, but also positively contribute to the growth and development of South Africa’s economy by facilitating employment creation, infrastructure, skills development, and the strengthening of Small Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs) in the waste management sector, without compromising the livelihoods of those who depend on the established and growing recycling industry, or reversing the hard-won environmental gains.
The Act and Bill provide for a pricing strategy for waste management charges (with a wide range of potential economic instruments along the product-waste value chain), the establishment of a Waste Management Bureau (WMB) and mechanisms to oversee the disbursement of revenue collected from waste management charges.
The DEA would also like to consult on the proposed development of regulations for the separation of waste at source, the banning of plastic waste-to-landfill, a moratorium on new landfill sites, a prohibition of the burning of waste, and a regional approach to waste management and disposal. The income from the waste management charges would fund industry and community initiatives to recycle and recover waste streams. The intention is for some of the funding collected to be used to fund industry and community initiatives to recycle and recover waste streams.
Plastics industry to speak with one vision
Now, more than ever, the plastics industry needs to speak with one vision and ensure consistent messaging. We know that the South African plastics industry is an advocate for achieving world-class standards on recycling. To realise this, however, everyone involved – from the raw material producers, through to manufacturers, retailers, consumers and recyclers – must play their part in the solution.
As the current Producer Responsibility Organisation for PET, PETCO (the PET Plastic Recycling Company) has for the last 12 years worked with the plastics industry, government, community members, municipalities, NGO’s and entrepreneurs to create a more sustainable PET plastic recycling system. The company is in the process of preparing an IWMP and will keep in regular communication with their stakeholders as the process unfolds.