EPR in SA: Promoting sustainability and addressing environmental challenges

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Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) is a critical tool for promoting a sustainable future in South Africa, addressing environmental challenges such as pollution, waste management and mitigating resource depletion, says Shabeer Jhetam, CEO of The Glass Recycling Company (TGRC).

As the CEO of TGRC, the glass Producer Responsibility Organisation (PRO) in the country, approved by the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, I firmly believe in the transformative power of EPR.

However, we need to evaluate the impact and significance of EPR in South Africa, focusing on the recycling industry, job creation, circular economy and the importance of stakeholder collaboration. Without compliance with EPR regulations, including the payment of fees, we cannot expect EPR to be entirely successful.

The importance of EPR in South Africa

Considering South Africa faces numerous environmental challenges, complying with the National EPR Regulations is crucial to tackling these issues effectively. EPR not only promotes sustainable practices but also creates income opportunities and supports a circular economy.

However, as a country, EPR will only have the impact that it stands to have — if mandatory separation at source is in place — by forcing the public and businesses to separate recyclables instead of adding to the waste stream. This will be one of the solutions for TGRC to achieve our EPR targets.

Opportunities in the glass recycling industry

Through EPR and the support of organisations like TGRC, the industry can overcome hurdles and create more recycling opportunities. By facilitating the availability of funds and infrastructure, EPR will contribute to the growth of the recycling industry.

Recycling generates more informal employment compared to landfilling. Through EPR, funds are made available to organisations like TGRC and, as a result, we are able to achieve our EPR objectives.

Further, EPR provides opportunities for more systems for collection and recycling and benefits:

  • smaller businesses
  • Buy-Back Centres
  • SMMEs, and 
  • glass collectors and waste pickers.

Circular economy and resource depletion

EPR plays a vital role in promoting a circular economy, where waste is viewed as a valuable resource. By holding producers accountable for the disposal of their products, EPR encourages the adoption of closed-loop systems. This approach emphasises recycling and reusing materials, reducing the demand for new resources such as sand while minimising waste.

Glass recycling, in particular, is an excellent example of circularity, as it can be infinitely recycled without compromising quality, leading to significant resource savings. Glass, with its infinite recyclability and straightforward processing requirements, serves as an ideal packaging choice in compliance with the circular economy.

Collaboration and responsibility

For successful implementation, EPR necessitates collaboration among all stakeholders, including:

  • producers
  • recyclers
  • government, and
  • consumers.

Producers must take responsibility for the environmental impact of their products and packaging. Key factors in realising the potential of EPR in South Africa include:

  • compliance with EPR legislation
  • joining organisations like TGRC
  • understanding the benefits, and
  • addressing challenges.

I believe that EPR is a critical step towards building a more sustainable future in South Africa. By joining TGRC, we enable businesses to ‘outsource’ and magnify their environmental responsibility to a national body able to have a greater impact. 

By doing so, you will be promoting sustainable practices, supporting the circular economy, and addressing significant environmental challenges, as EPR can drive positive change. However, successful implementation requires collaboration and ownership from all stakeholders.

Let us all take part in this journey by embracing our EPR packaging obligations and working together to create a greener and more sustainable South Africa.

For more information, visit www.theglassrecyclingcompany.co.za. You can also follow TGRC on Facebook or on X.

Originally published on www.mediaupdate.co.za

About TGRC:
The Glass Recycling Company (TGRC) consists of a team dedicated to increasing glass recycling in South Africa. We are passionate about ensuring every South African realises the value of recycling glass and actively embraces this practice.

We strive to educate, enable, encourage and inspire individuals to separate their glass for recycling, but do not physically collect or recycle the glass. Our focus extends beyond consumers and communities, but also on trade, industry and corporate South Africa. We also aim to uplift impoverished communities by creating income generating opportunities and skills development in the recycling sector. TGRC is funded by our committed members who manufacture glass or package their products in glass. We believe in the infinite potential of glass to make a real and positive contribution to society. At TGRC we are committed to show that glass recycling is worth the effort!

TGRC’s mandate is to increase awareness of glass recycling in South Africa. The team are passionate about ensuring every South African realises the value of recycling glass and actively embraces this practice. TGRC believes in the infinite potential of glass to make a real and positive contribution to society. TGRC is committed to prove that glass recycling is worth the effort! For info visit  like the Facebook page: www.tgrc.co.za  or www.facebook.com/TheGlassRecyclingCo/