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We have all been told to reduce, reuse and recycle. We have seen it on TV, splashed over billboards, printed on the products we purchase and heard it on the radio time and time again. But the question we keep forgetting to ask ourselves is why do we recycle and why is it necessary to start now?


Why do we recycle?

Yes, yes… We know we recycle to save the planet, but how does this actually effect us and our planet?

Recycling reduces pollution and in turn benefits the environment by conserving and protecting natural resources. If we recycle more, we reduce the need to harvest new raw materials. Recycling converts all waste into reusable clean material eliminating the need to make raw materials from scratch.

This Ultimately reduces the amount of waste that ends up in landfills causing greenhouse gas emissions and disease. Therefore, economic welfare and growth rates are improved.

As a producer of plastic products, Plastic Bubbles is responsible to ensure we recycle as much as possible. We are committed to meet the necessary regulatory and statutory customer requirements to ensure we are not contributing to the crisis we are facing when it comes to global pollution. These standards are laid out in the EPR Regulations.


Extended Producer Responsibility Regulations, what are they and how do we go about them?

EPR Regulations is a fundamental policy instrument used to address the increasing mass of plastic pollution in South Africa. EPR will hold both the plastic packaging industry and government to account and ensure transparency in the system. The Producer, i.e Plastic Bubbles, remains part of the duty-bound faction in terms of the EPR regulations and it is our responsibility to ensure we are compliant.


Why does most of the responsibility lay with the Producer?

There are 3 groups responsible for the impact of plastic on the environment, the producer, the consumer, and the government.

As stated in an article by PETCO, ”It is the responsibility of the Producer to ensure that the products they place on the market do not negatively affect the environment after consumers are done with them and must ensure that whatever post-use treatment is appropriate, occurs. Doing this may mean taking physical or financial accountability for the products. These policy objectives include changes for both upstream (e.g. Design for Recycling) and downstream (e.g. plans for increased collection and higher overall rates of recycling).”


Producers are requested to declare tonnages and for members to start paying EPR levies based on the proposed levies. This new approach is not only important but could also be a feasible way to move towards sustainable waste management and a Circular Economy. The trend producers are striving for is to be carbon neutral, net zero and climate positive.


Even though most of the responsibility lays with the Producer, there is also a huge role that the Consumer and Government play. Consumers need to understand that recycling starts at home. Children can learn to recycle at an early age. And once they’ve established the habit, they may recycle for the rest of their lives. Government needs to play a more active role in Education surrounding Recycling, like workshops in the community. Adding Recycling Bins to Public Areas is another great idea. When people throw away their trash, they only need a few seconds to decide whether they should recycle. Many people prefer to choose the path of least resistance. Government can also set up a regular recycling collection service. This is already happening in some parts of South Africa, but government needs to do more.


Why is it important to enforce these regulations?


Over the years we have seen the food and goods packaging industry boom. The influence of this innovation has reduced food waste as goods can be stored for extended periods, protected, and can also be transported over longer distances. This results in reduced costs, reduced carbon emissions, and the delivery of food in a safer, more hygienic way.

Nonetheless, this increase in convenience lifestyle and consumerism has been met with confrontation from our environment. Irresponsible disposal, shortcoming of widespread informative awareness and the production of poorly designed packaging has led to the rise in waste in our environment and the rapid loss of landfill space all over South Africa and the world.

It is important to enforce EPR Regulations as producers, otherwise, who will we hold accountable for the broken waste management system? This system encourages producers to adopt full life-cycle cost accounting for their products.

Next time you use a recyclable material, think about its impact and what you can do to help.

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