In many countries, the management of lighting and lighting equipment waste, is the responsibility of the private sector and is usually carried out at a B2B level.

The costs of such systems were borne by the private sector and/or national government. Producers of electrical and electronic lighting and lighting equipment and other stakeholders along the value chain are only held responsible for ensuring their products meet certain health and safety standards. Transitioning towards sustainable waste management and a circular economy therefore requires a new approach, one that involves all stakeholders at every stage of the waste value chain.

What does the South African legislation say?

The Extended Producer Responsibility Regulations were 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 is 4 November 2021. 2022 will be Year 1 of the EPR scheme implementation, reporting and targets.

To view the full Regulations, including amendments click here.

• Refer to APPENDIX 1 for a list Responsibility Regulations in South Africa (click here to view).

• Refer to APPENDIX 2 for definitions (click here to view).

What is EPR Section 18?

The purpose of these Regulations is to provide the framework for the development, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of Extended Producer Responsibility schemes by Producers in terms of Section 18 of the NEMWA (2008), to ensure the effective and efficient management of the identified product at the end of its life, and to encourage and enable the implementation of circular economy initiatives.

What is Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR)?

The international principle of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) is a waste management strategy for the sustainable organisation of operating and financing the end-of-life management of specific waste streams, such as electrical, electronic, lighting and lighting equipment waste.

The NEMWA Section 18(1) with Extended Producer Responsibility Regulations now obliges Producers to assume responsibility for their products up to and including the end-of-life stage of their product cycle. In EPR systems, Producers are responsible not only for health and safety issues associated with their products, but also for the environmentally sound management of electrical, electronic, lighting and lighting equipment waste as listed in the Lighting Sector and Electrical and Electronic Equipment Sector Notices, including collection, transportation, sorting and recycling and beneficiation. Essentially, this means that the Producer must ensure that the products they place on the market do not negatively affect the environment after consumer use and therefore must ensure that whatever post-use treatment is appropriate, occurs.

Doing this means taking physical or financial accountability for the products. In short, EPR systems tie Producers into financing and organising management systems for electrical, electronic, lighting and lighting equipment waste, an approach that has implications for all other stakeholders in the value chain.

Implementing an EPR system enhances the interactions between different stakeholders and assigns new responsibilities to them, since EPR schemes for electrical, electronic, lighting and lighting equipment waste need to be integrated into broader waste management and circular economy policies.

The Figure 1 below illustrates the EPR utilising the “All Actors Approach”.

What is EPR

What is Design for Recycling (D4R)?

The recycling of electrical, electronic, lighting and lighting equipment waste does not begin with its collection, but rather with its design. In ensuring the circular transition for lighting waste, Design for Recycling is among the key aspects. Compatibility of materials, easy separation, and the use of additives, among other features, play a role in determining the recyclability of a given product.

Design for Recycling (D4R) guidelines are generally developed by Producer Responsibility Organisations (PROs) to help guide their members to make better product design choices. These guidelines recommend what to use or how to responsibly use a product or combination of products in a particular application, such that the resultant product is easier to recycle and compatible with the recycling infrastructure available in the country.

These guidelines typically also highlight what not to do.

What is a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)?

A Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)1 is a cradle-to-grave or cradle-to-cradle analysis technique to assess environmental impacts associated with all the stages of a product's life, which extends from raw material extraction through to materials processing, manufacturing, distribution, and use. LCAs normally quantify the full impact of various lighting waste choices in terms of carbon footprint. The current Regulations include requirements to perform LCAs.

When do I become obliged to comply with this legislation?

The Regulations are effective from 05 May 2021, and Producers are liable from this date. Existing Producers have six months to firstly, register as a producer and secondly, join a registered PRO, or establish and implement compliant Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) schemes individually. Should a Producer decide to join a registered PRO, they will have to ensure that they join a registered PRO that will implement an EPR scheme for each of the products that they sell.

It is important to note that, because EPR schemes will need to be fully compliant and will be measured against targets for the 2022 calendar year, it is essential that they are fully operational before the November 2021 deadline. This means that Producers would need to join and contribute financially to the PRO and implementation of the EPR scheme by the November deadline. The deliverables as per the legislation to ensure Producer compliance is shown in Figure 2 below.


Roles and Responsibilities

There are various roles and responsibilities within Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) schemes that need to be understood for it be successful. It is of the utmost importance that these roles are clear and unambiguous.

Who is the Producer in the electrical, electronic, lighting and lighting equipment waste sectors?

In terms of the Extended Producer Responsibility Regulations as read with the Lighting Waste Notice, a Producer is any person or category of persons, including a Brand Owner, who is engaged in the commercial manufacture, refurbishment or import of new or used identified products.

Figure 3 below shows the obligated Producers.

Lighting And EEE

What will the Producer be held accountable for in terms of the Extended Producer Responsibility Regulations?

The primary responsibility for EPR is that of the Producer. By joining and contributing to a PRO, a Producer may attend to compliance of the Extended Producer Responsibility Regulations through the PRO. If however a PRO ultimately does not deliver against the requirements of the Regulations, either from a governance perspective or in terms of the results they achieve, the PRO can be discredited and the burden to execute their EPR returns to the Producer. As such, Producers need to ensure that the PRO that is asked to execute their EPR obligations are properly managed, governed, and funded.

There are however obligations that are NOT transferred to a PRO, and these include the requirement to declare consumption/production or sale of products accurately and timeously to their PROs, to pay their PROs timeously, and to register with the Department as a Producer.

Producers may also be required to take actions with respect to the products they manufacture to make them easier to collect and recycle.

Figure 4 below states the main points (not limited to) of the responsibilities of a Producer.

Producer Responsibility

What is the role of a PRO?

The primary role of a PRO is to implement an EPR scheme on behalf of its Registered Producer members. The PRO is accountable for fulfilling all its tasks and for spending the funds paid by the obliged companies accordingly.

A PRO operates as the coordinating body between Producers and take-back/recycling operators; it assumes the responsibilities of all its Producer members and organises take-back and recycling activities on their behalf. The PRO is also responsible for providing information about the system and maintaining communications between the stakeholders in the supply chain.

The PRO also plays the important role of educating consumers to encourage more recycling, and helping their members improve product design to make products easier to collect and recycle.

This wide range of responsibilities makes the PRO the most important stakeholder organisation within the system; it is responsible for setting up, developing, and maintaining the system, as well as assuming the take-back obligations of the obliged companies that are its members.

What will PROs be held accountable for?

By joining the PRO and remaining in good standing (i.e., declaring volume & paying EPR fees in full) with the PRO, a Producer transfers some of their Extended Producer Responsibility to the PRO. Amongst other things, the PRO will be held accountable for:

a. Developing and implementing an effective EPR scheme for its members’ identified products placed on the market.

b. Measuring and reporting on the scheme as required.

c. Ensuring compliance with finance and governance requirements. Effectiveness of an EPR scheme will be measured in terms of performance against agreed targets for several Key Performance Indicators, like percentage collection, recycling and, where appropriate, reused and recycled content.

Figure 5 below demonstrates some of the responsibilities (not limited to) of the PRO.


Who should join a PRO?

PROs are industry-led, meaning that they are set up by organisations in the private sector. Fundamentally the PRO represents the Producers as identified in the regulations. As such, the Board Members of the PRO are Producers.

Other general members may also join or be represented in PRO structures to enable broader industry participation. Critically, joining a PRO does not mean you are compliant. To remain complaint a Producer must remain in good standing with their PRO.

Service Providers that would be approved vendors providing various services to the PRO.

Who monitors PROs?

PROs are effectively monitored in two ways.

PROs are subject to performance reviews and accreditation by state authorities to ensure they perform their roles and carry out their responsibilities. PROs that do not comply fully with the regulations, demonstrate a lack of governance, or fail to achieve the mandated targets may be held accountable by the Department and potentially even lose their DFFE Registration.

However, it is not the state’s responsibility to ensure that a PRO is effective. The primary responsibility to ensure that a PRO is compliant and effective lies with the Producer members on whose behalf the PRO acts. As such, producer members should be actively involved in the oversight of their PRO.

If I am a micro-business, must I join a PRO?

Yes. The Regulations do not exclude anyone or have a minimum threshold based on the size of your business.

Waste Management Operators

Waste management operators are responsible for the compliant collection, management, and recycling of electrical, electronic, lighting and lighting equipment waste (in accordance with the highest standards to ensure high-quality legally compliant transportation and recycling), through contracts.

This responsibility also extends to companies operating in the informal sector. These entities are eligible to receive funds from EPR schemes for handling electrical, electronic, lighting and lighting equipment waste.

National Government - DFFE

It is up to the DFFE to implement clear, mandatory Regulations for the EPR system.

The DFFE should also monitor the system or at least ensure that appropriate monitoring mechanisms are in place, both to make sure all the relevant requirements and targets are met, and to guarantee a level playing field for all companies involved.

This responsibility also encompasses the imposition of sanctions if individual obligations are not fulfilled.

It is also important that the government keeps the system under constant review and ensures it is modified as required.

Local authorities and municipalities

Typically, local municipalities are responsible for waste collection from households and businesses, including providing readily accessible infrastructure. One of the key challenges for municipalities and local authorities is to ensure that all citizens are informed about the waste collection system and the fact that electrical, electronic, lighting and lighting equipment waste will be collected separately.

Local authorities are also the key point of contact for groups and institutions that can act as awareness multipliers for the rest of the population, such as nurseries, schools, universities, clubs, and other organisations.

The Regulations propose close cooperation between PROs, waste management companies and municipalities.

Informal waste collectors

Given the valuable role that informal waste collectors currently play in the waste economy, it is essential that they are considered going forward. DFFE is particularly concerned about potential exploitation of the informal sector and as such has proposed measures to try and address this, including ensuring fair remuneration for the services they offer.

All informal waste collectors, reclaimers and pickers will need to register with the National Registration Database for collection services.


Sustainable waste management partly depends on changing consumers’ attitudes towards waste, and particularly on creating a sense of civic collective responsibility for it.

Ensuring people are informed about both the benefits of proper waste management and the adverse effects of failure to manage it effectively is key to promoting this change. Consumers are not obliged to pay fees to the EPR system, but they usually cover its costs as additional costs are passed on to consumers through product prices. In this manner, electrical, electronic, lighting and lighting equipment waste that is hard to collect and recycle should have a higher burden to pass on to consumers and therefore consumer pressure can encourage Producers to choose more environmentally friendly electrical, electronic, lighting and lighting equipment.

Consumers must dispose of electrical, electronic, lighting and lighting equipment waste correctly, ideally by separating the waste at source to ensure high-quality recycling. Additionally, they need to be aware of strategies for waste reduction and observe general standards.

Who is obliged to register under EPR Section 18?

The Producer is, collectively (through a Producer Responsibility Organisation) responsible for the products and electrical and electronic equipment, lighting and lighting equipment and associated packaging that they place on the market after consumption. As a Producer, you will be required to declare the nature and volume of your products and will be held accountable to achieve the targets set out by DFFE in respect of reduction, reuse, recycling, and recycled content.

What are the specific obligations for Producers under EPR Section 18?

1. Registering with the DFFE:

a. All existing producers of identified products, at the time the Regulations come into effect, must register with the department within 6 months of publication of the Regulations by completing the online registration process accessible via the South African Waste Information Centre website:

b. All new producers of identified products, who commence producing after the Regulations come into effect, must register with the department within 3 months of being established, by completing the online registration process accessible via the South African Waste Information Centre website:

NOTE: Registrations under the previous and now-defunct Section 28 Regulations are no longer valid.

Re-registration is required as outlined above in accordance with the current Section 18 Regulations.

2. Establish an Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) scheme that includes the entire value chain OR appoint a Producer Responsibility Organisation (PRO) to establish and implement an EPR scheme on their behalf that includes the entire value chain.

3. Be accountable for the operation and performance of the EPR scheme.

4. Pay the appropriate fee to the EPR scheme.

5. Fulfil monitoring and reporting obligations – to begin Q1 2022.

6. Implement environmental labelling of lighting waste to indicate disposal information. Use design for recycling guidelines and science-based assessment tools to reduce the environmental footprint of production and usage; keep products in circulation through reuse models where appropriate; increase recyclability and reduce or eliminate toxicity in the post-consumer waste stream.

What Waste materials trigger a registration obligation?

1. The identified products in terms of section 18(1)(a) of the Act and to the producers of these identified products.

2. The identified products in terms of section 18(1)(a) of the Act that were placed on the market prior to the Regulations coming into effect, and to the Producers of these identified products.

However, these regulations do not apply to the identified products that are exported and a valid statement of export will need to be submitted to the PRO to be excluded.

The tables below list the obligated identified products. The product categories and types will be further broken down from the listed products. The table also specifies the collection, recycling, and recyclability targets of the products.

The packaging that the products are placed in is also subject to EPR obligations, and the PRO will be offering an efficiency model for its Producer Members so that multiple packaging PRO registrations can be avoided.

Lighting and lighting equipment waste


Electrical and Electronic Equipment Waste

Equipment Waste Table

Tables 1: List of Identified Products and Targets for electrical, electronic, lighting and lighting equipment

What will it cost?

The Extended Producer Responsibility fee must be based on nett cost recovery including a differentiated rate per item category, of each product or class of product, which must be paid by a Producer to fund Extended Producer Responsibility schemes and be dependent on the following:

a. weight of the product

b. type of product

c. ease of recyclability

d. costs for establishing a separate waste collection system

e. collection, transport and treatment costs for collected waste

f. administrative costs, i.e., costs linked to the running of a producer responsibility organisation

g. costs for public communication and awareness-raising (on waste prevention, separate collection, etc.)

h. costs for the appropriate surveillance of the system (including auditing and measures against free riders)

What are the penalties for non-compliance?

Producers and PROs commit a criminal offence if they contravene or fail to comply to the regulations. Producers convicted of an offence under the Regulations are liable to:

a. imprisonment for a period not exceeding 15 years;

b. an appropriate fine; or

c. both a fine and imprisonment.

Practically any fine issued to a Producer, that for example may not have paid their fair share to a PRO or not joined a PRO, would typically be significantly larger than the cost avoided through non-compliance. Fines are therefore likely to be proportional to the size of the business at fault.

Registration with DFFE

You can register here.

The primary function of the registration process is to provide DFFE with a record of all the Producers identified in terms of the regulations and the products that each place in the market.

The DFFE should also then check to ensure that all Producers are compliant and have joined a PRO for each of the identified products they place in the market. In so doing, the DFFE can monitor and prevent so called “free-riding”.

Obliged Producers must also report the quantities of identified products that they place in the market annually to enable the state to consolidate national collection and recycling metrics.

Why should I join Lightcycle SA?

If your company puts electrical, electronic, lighting and lighting equipment onto the market, Lightcycle SA can help you to meet your legal obligations for your identified Product. Joining Lightcycle SA gives your company the following advantages:

  • Achieving your recycling targets which is efficient and cost effective.
  • Simplified administration and reporting.

Your Producer Membership with Lightcycle SA is only valid after you have paid the financial EPR fee contribution. Lightcycle SA uses this fee to fulfil its members’ legal recycling and information obligations.

The income of Lightcycle SA, both from its Producer members and from the other sources of revenue, is used for the operation of the organisation with the main aim being the achievement of the targets set by legislation with the lesser possible cost.

Click here to join Lightcycle SA

NOTE: Choose the correct menu to register as an I.E Producer

APPENDIX 1. Legislation and policies applicable to waste management in South Africa

  • National Environmental Management Act [No. 107 of1998] (NEMA)
  • The National Waste Management Strategy (NWMS)
  • National Environmental Act: Waste Act (2008)
  • National Environmental Management: Waste Amendment Act (2014)
  • National Waste Management Strategy (2020)
  • Gazette 43879: National Environmental Management Act: Waste Act, 2008 (Act No 59 of 2008):
  • Regulations regarding Extended Producer Responsibility (November 2020)
  • Gazette 43882: National Environmental Management Act: Waste Act, 2008 (Act No 59 of 2008):
  • Regulations regarding Extended Producer Responsibility Scheme for Paper, Lighting Waste and some Single Use Products (November 2020)
  • Gazette 44539: National Environmental Management: Waste Act (59/2008): Amendments to the
  • Regulations and Notices Regarding Extended Producer Responsibility, 2020 (5May 2021) – Final
  • amendments published, marking the effectiveness date of EPR in South Africa.

APPENDIX 2. Definitions

“Brand owner” means a person, category of persons or company that makes and/or sells any identified product under a brand label.

“Circular economy” means a regenerative system in which resource inputs and waste, emissions, and energy leakage are minimised by slowing, closing, and narrowing energy and material loops. This can be achieved through long-lasting design, maintenance, repair, reuse, remanufacturing, refurbishing, and recycling. This is in contrast to a linear economy which is a 'take, make, dispose' model of production.

“Collection” means the gathering of an identified product at the end of its life, at the place of its generation or storage by a waste picker, collector or reclaimer or service provider.

“Collection service fee” means the agreed fee payable to the waste collectors, reclaimers or pickers through the Extended Producer Responsibility Scheme.

“Collection target” means the amount of post-consumer-identified products collected from the waste stream measured after primary sorting as a percentage of the amount of identified products placed on the market.

“Consumer” means end users of a product, including individuals, households, commercial, industrial and institutional users.

“Cost recovery” means the recovery of operational and maintenance costs of the producer responsibility organisations, i.e., costs related to the collection, storage and treatment of waste products, as well as the administrative and awareness-raising costs of the producer responsibility organisations.

“Department” means the national department responsible for the environment.

“Disposal” refers to any waste management operation not defined as recovery. Any activity that later results in secondary treatment to reclaim valuable substances or energy is also classified as disposal.

“EPR fee” means the price paid by a Producer to the Producer Responsibility Organisation/system operator in return for carrying out the Producers’ responsibilities.

“EPR framework” means the supporting document and guideline for the implementation of the EPR Regulations.

“EPR scheme” means a system of actions employed by a PRO to meet the EPR obligations of the Producers as set out in these Regulations. It can be an individual system (or individual compliance system) where a Producer organises its own system, or a collective system (collective compliance system) where several Producers decide to collaborate and thus fulfil their responsibility in a collective way through a specific organisation.

“Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR)” is an environmental policy approach which means that a Producer’s responsibility for an identified product is extended to the post-consumer stage of an identified product’s life cycle. In practice, EPR involves Producers taking responsibility for the management of products after becoming waste, including: collection; pre-treatment (e.g., sorting, dismantling or de-pollution); (preparation for) reuse; recovery (including recycling and energy recovery) or final disposal.

EPR systems can allow Producers to exercise their responsibility either by providing the financial resources required and/or by taking over the operational aspects of the process from municipalities. They assume the responsibility voluntarily or mandatorily.

EPR systems can be implemented individually or collectively.

“Free rider” means a producer that benefits from the actions or efforts of another Producer, in relation to an Extended Producer Responsibility scheme without totally complying with the requirements of the Extended Producer Responsibility scheme.

“Full cost” means all the direct fixed and variable costs associated with the extended producer responsibility scheme on waste collection, storage, treatment and some administration and awareness raising costs.

“Identified products” means products that are identified in terms of section 18(1)(a) of the Act and published in the Government Gazette by the Minister.

"Importer" means a person or category of persons who brings identified products or items that contain identified products into the country from abroad and including but not limited to the one that first places them into the market for sale.

“Licensed agent” – a person or category of persons, domiciled in South Africa for operating an enterprise trading in branded goods originating from outside of South Africa under a formal agreement with the Brand Owner.

“Obliged industry” means the companies that are obliged to pay a fee within an operational EPR system. In most cases, these companies are domestic Producers and importers introducing packaged products into the market.

“Output recycling” means the difference between material collected for recycling and the actual material that has been processed into new material, i.e., after the recycling process for the purpose of understanding material flow.

“Post-consumer materials” means material generated by households or by commercial, industrial and institutional facilities in their role as end-users of the product which can no longer be used for its intended purpose. This includes returns of material from the distribution chain.

“Pre-consumer materials” means materials diverted from the waste stream during a manufacturing process, excluding materials, such as rework, regrind or scrap generated in a process, capable of being reclaimed within the same process that generated them and which are reutilised.

“Producer Responsibility Organisation (PRO)” means a non-profit collective entity set up by the obliged companies or through legislation, which becomes responsible for meeting the waste collection and disposal obligations of the individual obliged companies. The PRO is the most important stakeholder (organisation) in an EPR system and is responsible for setting up, developing and maintaining the system, as well as for the take-back obligations of the obliged companies.

“Producer” means the entity, person or category of persons identified by the Regulations as being responsible for extended Producer responsibility in terms of Section 18. Producers that place identified products onto the market on an annual basis, responsible for Extended Producer Responsibility under the regulations shall be identified subject to the following criteria:

In the case where branded goods, either are identified products or are sold accompanied by or within identified products and the registered owner of the brand operates an enterprise, domiciled in South Africa, that makes and/or sells such goods, the producer shall be the paper, Lighting Waste and single use product manufacturer, converter and/or the brand owner.

In the case where branded goods, either are identified products or are sold accompanied by or within identified products and the registered owner of the brand does not operate or have a controlling interest in an enterprise domiciled in South Africa, that makes and or/sells such goods, the Producer shall be either:

  • i. the Licensed Agent of the branded goods; or
  • ii. where no official agency agreement may be in place, the importer of the branded goods as depicted on the Bill of Lading.

In the case of all other identified products not covered by sub-paragraphs (i) and (ii), the Producer shall be the Retailer.

“Recyclable” means an item is recyclable in terms of these Regulations if its successful post-consumer collection, sorting, and recycling is proven to currently work in practice and at scale in South Africa.

“Recovery” means the controlled extraction or retrieval of any substance, material or object from waste.

"Recycled content" means the proportion, by mass, of post-consumer recycled material in a product or lighting waste, excluding any pre-consumer waste.

“Recycling” means the processing of collected material with the intention of using all or part of the collected material as raw material for the manufacture of new products. Recycled tonnage or percentage (%) shall be measured on an input recycling basis.

“Regulations” means these Regulations, published in their entirety.

“Retailer” means an entity primarily dedicated to the sale of goods, either branded or unbranded directly to consumers.

“Reuse” means Lighting Waste is refilled or used for the same purpose for which it was conceived.

“Targets” means the targets for Identified Products as set out and agreed in the EPR Framework.

“The Act” means the National Environmental Management: Waste Act, 2008 (Act. No. 59 of 2008).

“Waste hierarchy” is a tool for ranking waste management options according to their environmental impact. It gives top priority to preventing waste wherever possible. Where waste is generated, the options considered for handling it are, in order by priority: preparing for re-use; recycling; recovery and, as a last resort, permanent disposal.

“Waste management” describes typical activities, including:

  • a. the collection, transport, treatment and disposal of waste,
  • b. the control, monitoring and regulation of the production, collection, transport, treatment and disposal of waste, and
  • c. the prevention of waste via in-process modifications, reuse and recycling.

“Waste picker” means a person who collects identified products from residential and commercial waste bins, landfill sites and open spaces to revalue them and generate an income.

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