The Polyolefin Responsibility Organisation (Polyco) has been the driving force behind 26 000 tonnes of polyolefin plastics recycled in South Africa and 64 000 tonnes collected. In response to recently introduced waste management regulations, Polyco announced at its Annual General Meeting yesterday that it has made the decision to broaden its focus to all plastic types under extended producer responsibility (EPR) regulations. This decision has been made to increase its support to producers to manage their products’ life cycle responsibly.

Producer Responsibility Organisations (PRO’s) like Polyco support producers to ensure that all identified products are managed responsibly in order to make a much-needed difference to the plastic litter and pollution problem in South Africa. “With new EPR regulations, it is now mandatory for producers to join a PRO or form one themselves,” says Patricia Pillay, Chief Executive Officer at Polyco. Under the EPR regulations, legislated for implementation from 5 November 2021, producers, through their PROs or independent schemes, are legally mandated to manage their products at end of life in order to grow the downstream reuse and recycling of their materials to achieve the published legislated targets. Obligated producers have until 5 November 2021 to register with the DFFE and ensure that all identified products are covered by an EPR scheme. They can either join an existing PRO, form a new PRO or develop and submit an independent EPR scheme.

“A challenge with these new EPR regulations is that producers who manufacture more than one type of plastic are required to join more than one PRO to cover their full product range. Considering this, Polyco has made the decision to now manage all plastic polymer types under our mandate. As a membership-based organisation, we followed a consultative process with our members and board to arrive at a 95% in favour vote to increase our mandate. We are very pleased with this result,” says Pillay.

Since its inception in 2011, Polyco has specifically focused on polymer identification codes 2, 4, 5 and 7, as the biggest polymer (plastic) group in the South African market. Following the decision to broaden their focus to cover all plastics, as an organisation, Polyco now constitutes a ‘one-stop shop’ to improve the collection and recycling of all polymer types. “The intention of this decision is to increase our support to all product producers, retailers and manufacturers.” says Quinton Williams, Polyco’s Business Manager.

Polyco supports producers by growing plastic recycling through collaboration with multiple stakeholders along the recycling value chain, investment in recycling innovation and infrastructure in South Africa, and through educating both the industry and consumers about recycling.

The introduction of EPR regulations plays an important role in minimising the amount of waste that goes to landfill or that lands up in the environment. “Government has big targets to divert waste from landfill and EPR regulations are a mechanism to achieve this. We place our focus on collaborating within the recycling value chain to reduce the amount of plastic packaging waste going to landfill by increasing the sustainable collection, recycling, recovery and beneficiation of plastic packaging waste materials.”

“We encourage you to please share the outcome of our vote within your supply chain,” says Pillay. “By joining an established PRO like Polyco, responsible producers can ensure compliance under EPR regulations.”