Extended Producer Responsibility Levy

Extended Producer Responsibility Levy

The Extended Producer Responsibility levy (EPR) should be in full swing, which means that all the plastic packaging used in South Africa is being declared and levied according to government regulations. With the funds generated by this scheme, improvements will be made to waste management and recycling infrastructure which would also increase employment in this industry. While certain aspects of the EPR process (i.e., multilayer vs monolayer) may still be relatively new to some, it is important to understand the various ways the levy can impact our day-to-day activities.

Although Sun Plastics has the capabilities to produce a range of flexible plastic products, we focus on manufacturing high-quality barrier films for several applications such as food and medical products. Therefore, to help one navigate EPR, Sun Plastics have noted a few points that we hope will assist both the consumer as well as the product manufacturer. Having a better grasp of the packaging in use can have a positive influence on economic, social, and environmental sustainability.

Here are 3 points to consider:

  • 1. Know your material

    Plastic packaging comes in various shapes, forms, and sizes; some are easily recyclable while others are not. The number on the packing (1-7) is the resin code, which helps consumers assess the construction and how the waste is to be disposed of (i.e., either in your recycling bag or in your refuse bag destined for landfill). Plastics SA reports that numbers 1-6 are currently recycled in South Africa, but most recycling centres are only equipped to process #1, #2, #4, #5, #6 according to the South African Plastics Recycling Organisation (SAPRO). Luckily, food manufacturers/retail brands such as Woolworths are making it easier for their customers, by correctly labelling the various components of their packaging with “widely recycled in SA” or “not currently recycled”. While that is helpful in terms of waste management, it is up to us as packaging manufacturers to constantly explore how we can lead the market in product innovation and sustainable development.

  • 2. Know your application

    Due to our production of specialized barrier films, Sun Plastics currently focuses on coextruded and laminated materials – resin code #7. These products are necessary as they are puncture-resistant, have increased barrier properties against moisture and air, and are also converted into various ways for our customers’ application requirements. This could be rolls for FFS (form, fill, and seal) and thermoforming (I.e., meat and cheese) systems, or even in various sized pouches/bags. All these constructions can be tweaked and printed to specific requirements however, it is important to know what these requirements are. For example, our R&D has shown us that there are industries that may rely heavily on EVOH – which is a high barrier resin – even though they only require a much shorter shelf-life. The consequence of this could be an increased cost, the reliance on a rare material, or even the increase of product weight due to the construction. One should take all of these things into consideration as an increase in weight would mean more plastic in use and a higher levy.

  • 3. Know your thickness requirements

    Although quite similar to the previous point, it would also be important to ensure that you are using the right micron/thickness material. By “right” we mean using a material that offers all the barrier properties and durability that you require, but that has the right thickness to achieve this. Sun Plastics can assist; taking your current spec and application, we can conduct the relevant trials to ensure that your product is suitably packaged and that you aren’t paying more than you should. For example, a medium sized company using an additional 20 micron in one variant could see an additional cost of R60 000 per year.

Having a better grasp of the packaging in use can have a positive influence on economic, social, and environmental sustainability. Get in touch with Sun Plastics for innovative, and advanced barrier flexible packaging.