It is now mandatory for Producers to register with the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment (DFFE; formerly Environmental Affairs) on their website and ensure that all identified products are covered by an appropriate EPR Scheme. 

Obligated Producers can either:
• join an existing Producer Responsibility Organisation (PRO);
• form a new PRO; or
• develop and submit to DFFE an independent EPR Scheme for your packaging.

PETCO is registered with the DFFE both as a Producer Responsibility Organisation and in terms of the Extended Producer Responsibility Regulations 2020.

Click here if you would like to start the process of signing up with PETCO to include your packaging into our EPR scheme.

See PETCO’s Section 18 FAQ’s here

See PETCO’s consolidated Section 18 EPR regulations here

Why the responsibility rests with producers

Over the last 50 years, the production and supply of goods globally has metamorphosised and the market has expanded. Consumers have more choice than ever before with the range of different products constantly growing and individual items being produced on an ever-increasing scale.

Food and goods packagingtechnology has also evolved and opened up new distribution channels. The advantages of this innovation? Reduced food waste as goods can be stored for extended periods, protected, and can also be transported over long distances. All of this also results in reduced costs, reduced carbon emissions, and the delivery of food in a safer and more hygienic way.

However, this increase in consumerism and convenience lifestyle has led to many challenges for our environment. Irresponsible disposal, lack of widespread awareness and the production of badly designed packaging has led to the rise in waste and litter in the environment and the rapid loss of landfill airspace all over South Africa and the world.  

In order to try manage this problem, Governments all over the world have introduced Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR). Mandatory EPR recently came into effect in South Africa on 5 May 2021 under Section 18 of the National Environmental Management Waste Act (NEMWA).

EPR means that producers of packaged goods are responsible not only for health and safety issues associated with their products, but also for the management of their post-consumer packaging waste, including collection, sorting and recycling.

Essentially, this means that the Producer must 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).

PETCO’s view, which is aligned with international best practice, is that the Producer for packaging is either the Brand Owner of the products using the packaging, the Retailer in the case of house brands, or the Importer of goods contained in packaging.

This new approach is not only crucial but could also be a viable way to transition towards sustainable waste management and a Circular Economy, as it involves all stakeholders at every stage of the packaging value chain.

Download PETCO’s How-To Guide to Section 18 for Packaging Producers in South Africa here.

Download the amended and consolidated Extended Producer Responsibility Regulations here.

EPR in South Africa – The Timeline

The Extended Producer Responsibility Regulations were originally published on 5 November 2020. On 15 January 2021, a Government Notice was published which postponed the implementation of the Extended Producer Responsibility Regulations to 5 May 2021. On 5 May 2021, amendments to the Regulations and notices regarding Extended Producer Responsibility were published. The Regulations are therefore effective from 5 May 2021 and the revised date for final compliance was 5 November 2021. 2022 will be Year 1 of the EPR scheme implementation, reporting and targets.

For a full list of waste management legislation and policies applicable to the Extended Producer Responsibility Regulations in South Africa, including download links, see below.  

As can be expected, the implications of Section 18 have created a lot of uncertainty for both PROs and the Producers at this time. With this in mind, we hope to provide as much guidance and clarity as we can, whenever we can. It is our intention to keep the lines of communication open and share regular updates. We ask that, if you are not sure of something or are concerned about something, you raise this directly with us as soon as possible.

We’d like to support you on your Section 18 journey to sustainability, so the information above is intended to answer any questions you may have. Please contact us if you have not found what you’re looking for. 




Introduction to the new section 18 regulations: what does this mean for you and your business?

This session includes an introduction to the anticipated Section 18 legislation and what it means for South African businesses. It focusses on key aspects of mandatory EPR, as understood by PETCO, including defining who the obliged producers are, and outlining the anticipated requirements for producers.

Structure and operation of Producer Responsibility Organizations (PROs) in successful EPR schemes.

This session unpacks international examples of best practice amongst Producer Responsibility Organizations (PROs) in the paper and packaging sector.

EPR fee setting and compliance.

EPR legislation differs from country to country, making compliance a complex matter. This session unpacks the many anticipated requirements of producers, as outlined in the South African Section 18 EPR legislation, which include (amongst other things) reporting obligations, registration requirements, fee structuring and data submissions.

Monitoring and evaluation.

It’s important that reporting requirements of EPR schemes are clear, transparent and able to collect the necessary data needed to monitor and ensure compliance. This session looks at frameworks for setting and measuring of EPR targets.

Mandatory EPR Workshop and Q&A session.

Leading up to the release of the final, highly-anticipated EPR legislation, PETCO held an open information and Q&A session for members and non-members to address concerns around requirements, definitions and timelines, as understood by PETCO.

To learn more about sustainability and the circular economy and why Section 18 is so important watch the below webinars.


How can science, technology, and innovation contribute to the transition to a circular economy in South Africa?

In contrast to the traditional linear economy, a Circular Economy maintains the highest value of products and materials and locks it into the economy. In this session, we hear from Dr Henry Roman, the Director of Environmental Services and Technology, for his insights on South Africa’s transition to a Circular Economy. 

How can life cycle assessments (LCA) contribute towards moving SA to a circular economy?

This session aims to show how Life Cycle Assessments can be used to support South Africa’s transition to a circular economy. According to The Green House, a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) quantifies the environmental impacts and resource-use of a product or service along the complete supply chain. From the mining or production of its raw materials, to the manufacturing, distribution and use of products, to the end of life. 



Biodegradables and Compostables: the basics.

When one hears terms like biodegradable, compostable and recyclable, they’re understood to mean universally good for the planet. Yet these words simply describe a material’s property, not necessarily an automatic environmental benefit. Many think that just because something is capable of biodegrading or being recycled, that it will naturally happen. However, this is not always the case. This session unpacks basic terminology and common misperceptions.  

Compostable Packaging – looking at the bigger picture.

Compostable packaging and organic waste are amongst those items in the waste stream that do not get much airtime in South Africa. This session explores product testing, certification and labelling of compostable packaging. It also looks at the benefits and challenges innate to composting. 

What Does Biodegradable and Compostable packaging mean for consumers?

The consumer must make the choice of how to dispose of their packaging, and it is the cities in which these consumers live that determine how easy (or difficult) it is to dispose of compostable material. This session aims to unpack what this type of packaging means for the average consumer.



• NEM: Waste Act (59/2008): Consultation on the amendments to the Regulations and notices regarding extended Producer Responsibility, 2020

• Gazette 44078: National Environmental Management Act: Waste Act, 2008 (Act No 59 of 2008): Amendment of Regulations and Notices regarding Extended Producer Responsibility, 2020 (15 January 2021) 

• Gazette 44539: National Environmental Management: Waste Act (59/2008): Amendments to the Regulations and Notices Regarding Extended Producer Responsibility, 2020 (5 May 2021)

• Gazette 43882: National Environmental Management Act: Waste Act, 2008 (Act No 59 of 2008): Regulations regarding Extended Producer Responsibility Scheme for Paper, Packaging and some Single Use Products  

• Gazette 43879: National Environmental Management Act: Waste Act, 2008 (Act No 59 of 2008): Regulations regarding Extended Producer Responsibility 

• National Environmental Management: Waste Act, 2008 (Act No 59 of 2008) Section 28 Notice 

• National Pricing Strategy for Waste Management  

• National Environmental Management: Waste Amendment Act

• National Development Plan 2030: Our future – make it work 

• National Policy for the Provision of Basic Refuse Removal Services to the Indigent Households 

• National Environmental Act: Waste Act (2008) 

• Polokwane Declaration on Waste Management (2001) 

• White Paper on Integrated Pollution and Waste Management (2000) 

• National Environmental Management Act [No. 107 of 1998] (NEMA)