As sustainability has an ever growing influence on our daily activities, recycling in wine-related businesses has now been formalised through dedicated legislation and the establishment of a number of organisations to assist them with compliance. What’s more, it can provide the South African wine industry with a great opportunity to position itself as a frontrunner in sustainability.
On 5 November 2020, the Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries promulgated the Extended Producer Responsibility Regulations (EPR) for paper, packaging and some single use products (view the regulations here).
The Regulations set down compliance targets for plastics, paper and glass by specifying the extent to which each product must be reused, collected and recycled. In the interim there were further engagements with the Department on the Regulations, culminating in an amendment in May 2021 (view here, relevant sections highlighted).
“The regulations are internationally aligned with the Global Sustainability Goals – specifically goal 12 which refers to responsible production and consumption – and as an industry we are exposed to a variety of sustainability messages in the market on a daily basis,” says Christo Conradie, manager of Vinpro’s wine business division.
As more emphasis is placed on sustainability aspects such as the ESG (environmental, social & governance) framework, the new regulations also link in well with a variety of existing industry initiatives around ethical trade, environmentally friendly practices and traceability, as well as efforts to reduce the industry’s carbon footprint.
It is Vinpro’s interpretation, from a wine perspective, that glass (bottles), plastic (packaging) and paper (boxed wine) will be applicable. They would all fall under regulated products and a producer/brand owner (see GG page 4 of 28) would qualify under the Regulations, if they produce in excess of 10 tonnes, of either product per annum. In this regard, the 5 May 2021 amendments state:
“3. This Notice applies to the following identified products at the end of their life
(1) paper & paper packaging material;
(2) plastic packaging;
(3) biodegradable and compostable packaging;
(4) single-use products;
(5) single-use compostable products;
(6) single-use biodegradable products;
(7) glass packaging; and
(8) metal packaging containers; but excludes
(9) plastic carrier bags and plastic flat bags.”
“Although a variety of initiatives will be launched to encourage the end consumer to recycle glass, plastic and paper, the primary producers and businesses that use these products (including the wine industry) will be held accountable and responsible for establishing recycling initiatives in their own capacity, which in turn also addresses the reduction of carbon emissions to some extent,” Christo says.
PRO’s provide support
According to the regulations, it is compulsory for an enterprise that manufactures or uses more than 10 tonnes of regulated products to submit its own comprehensive producer responsibility scheme, or to join a producer responsibility scheme (PRO) that collectively draws up and implements a scheme on behalf of its members (at a fee). Individual companies must also register directly with the Department.
“It can be difficult for individual producers to set up such a scheme in their own capacity, and this is where a PRO can be of assistance,” says Christo. “While there are no indications yet that bottling or packaging companies in the wine industry are planning to develop their own scheme to achieve the recycling targets, it is important to familiarise yourself with the various PRO’s and their planned activities.”
He encourages wine companies to attend webinars and workshops in this regard and to visit the Packaging SA website, which provides core information on the regulations, along with a list of existing PRO’s.
More than half of South Africa’s wines are exported, the largest component of which to Europe, where international consumers place a high demand on sustainability.
“Let’s consider this recycling legislation as an opportunity to position the South African wine industry as a frontrunner in sustainability, and to market our wines as such – rather than regarding it as just another compliance requirement,” says Christo. “It also links well with the Sustainability 360 theme of Cape Wine 2022.”
Contact Christo Conradie on 021 276 0429 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.