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Evaluating the potential Extended Producer Responsibility returns for plastic-packaging riverine waste in Durban, South Africa
- Master Thesis
The right to a healthy and non-harmful environment is deeply anchored in the South African Bill of Rights. The Environmental Right on Section 24 states that: “Everyone has the right a) to an environment that is not harmful to their health or well-being; and b) to have the environment protected, for the benefit of present and future generation through reasonable legislative and other measures that...” This specifically imposes the duty on the South African state to ensure that this right is endorsed (DEAT, 2000). However, South Africa still faces huge problems on its path to environmental responsibility. One major problem is faced in its solid waste management, which is comprised of a complex structure of formal and informal waste management systems. Since its formal declaration of a National Waste Act (Act no. 59 of 2008), South Africa has seen big steps toward tackling large-scale waste management; however, the daily reality is that a large amount of waste is still being dumped, which can have devastating effects on the environment, wildlife, and human life (DEA, 2011). In 2017, it was estimated that roughly 5.5 million households, which account for about 34% of total households, had no access at all to facilities of waste disposal, which resulted in 7.8 million tons of municipal solid waste not being disposed of on sanitary landfill sites (Averda, 2017). Coastal cities like Durban are of special interest in solid waste management, as they act as gatekeepers for litter discharged into the ocean. Here, coastal cleanup initiatives are well in place. In Durban, municipal programs like the DSW (Durban Solid Waste), the Parks Department, and Adopt A River work on collecting the waste washed ashore on the beaches, which mostly accumulates on the Umgeni river mouth. Additionally, the informal waste pickers keep the beaches rid of valuable plastics like PET and HDPE. Conjointly, these initiatives do a good job in tackling the symptoms of plastic waste dumping present at the beachfront but miss to address the root cause of it. A few of the many reasons for open waste dumping include the municipal failure of neglecting waste management in townships and informal settlements, a lack of waste education and recycling culture, or an absence of economic incentives for the formal and informal waste sector, or even for the households, to collect their waste and dispose of it correctly. In 2021, South African legislation decided to address this and replaced their voluntary Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) scheme with mandatory regulations (Arp, 2021). This makes it legally binding for producers to financially or physically hold significant responsibility for the treatment or disposal of post- consumer products (OECD, ). This, however, requires a quantitative understanding of the brand distribution of plastic litter, as well as an understanding of the implementation and enforcement of EPR regulations. The objective of this thesis is to set the framework to better understand the implementation of EPR in Durban. This is achieved by firstly identifying the most common brands of plastic packaging (PET, HDPE, PP) that are found during river and beach cleanups in Durban, South Africa. Together with additional data from Producer Responsibility Organizations (PROs) in South Africa, a realistic analysis/model is assessed of the potential gains that can be made with EPR. This data will be analyzed to see how EPR can help with waste management in Durban by potentially helping recyclers maximize leveraging of EPR money. Show more
ContributorsExaminer: Tilley, Elizabeth
SubjectRiverine Plastic Waste; Plastic Packaging Waste; Extended Producer Responsibility; Recyclers in South Africa
Organisational unit09746 - Tilley, Elizabeth / Tilley, Elizabeth
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