Wednesday, January 26

Regulations on electronic waste come into force


New regulations dealing with end-of-life management of lighting and electrical and electronic waste have come into full effect, and companies throughout the supply and distribution chain that do not comply face the threat. heavy fines or even jail time.

The Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) regulations, created under section 18 (1) of the National Environmental Waste Management Act, affect all companies involved in the lighting, electrical and electronics industries, including those that sell computers. and IT equipment, smartphones and renewable energy. team. Direct battery importers or manufacturers and distributors, as well as the paper and packaging and single-use products sectors, are also affected.

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The regulations were published in November 2020, with modifications made on May 5, 2021. They entered into full force six months later, on November 5, 2021.

Companies that until November 4 had not registered with the relevant “producer responsibility organization” in their sector (the PROs that are established in terms of the EPR rules) with the intention of paying the prescribed regulatory fees based on of the anticipated import or manufacturing volumes, they could find themselves in a situation of responsible crime.

The idea behind the regulations is to ensure that producers take full responsibility for the life cycle of products, beyond the point where the consumer needs to dispose of them responsibly. The hope is that the regulations mean that electrical and electronic products, most of them potentially harmful to the environment, do not end up in landfills. The regulations are also intended to ensure that products are recovered and recycled as much as possible, rather than increasing the growing problem of e-waste.

Far-reaching

And the scope of the regulations is broad: they affect not only the manufacturer of a printer, for example, but also the local company that directly imports and distributes the printer or resells it, or the importing retailer that stores and sells it to a final user. All these companies are considered “producers” according to the regulations.

According to Patricia Schröder, president of the Southern African Waste Management Institute, regulations have been developing for the past decade and because of this, no one should be unaware of their existence.

In fact, there have been years of disputes between industry and government over how to implement and enforce the rules around the safe and environmentally sound recovery and recycling of waste electrical and electronic equipment. There has also been considerable engagement with industry and business associations, although Schröder admits that not everyone may have known about it, especially smaller companies.

After intense debate, the forestry, fisheries and environment department allowed industry-led EPR schemes, with government oversight, which Schröder says is the best way to proceed with EPR regulations.

Businesses that did not register with the department and a PRO before Nov. 4 can be criminally prosecuted, Schröder said, and run the risk of the environment department turning over their data to the courts, and later fined millions. rand and could result in prison. of the directors for non-compliance.

The EPR rates, which have been reviewed by the finance minister and the trade, industry and competition minister, will cover among other requirements (as prescribed in the regulations):

PRO administration costs;

  • Marketing and awareness campaigns; and
  • Infrastructure contributions to make it easier for consumers to deliver unwanted products for recycling, and the end-of-life management of these products uses up most of the fee.
  • PRO rates will be made public.

One concern for consumers is that the fees will simply be passed on to them, fueling inflation.

“The impact on the consumer depends on the producer. Some producers have declared that they will absorb the tariffs internally; others say their margins are too low and will have to pass them on to their customers. In most cases, the consumer will have to bear the additional cost, ”said Schröder.

“Everyone has to contribute,” he said. “The consumer must think before buying something: Do I really need this? Don’t buy on impulse. Waste electrical and electronic equipment, including lighting products, is restricted to landfills, and landfills are running out of usable space. ”

Ultimately, the regulations pay off, Schröder said, as they contribute to the “circular economy,” ensuring that products are managed sustainably.

Duncan McLeod is an editor at TechCentral, where this article was first published. here.

© 2021 NewsCentral Media


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