Let’s talk about end-of-life.

Do you know where your product is going? To the recycling mill or landfill?

A problem shared is a problem halved.

A solution shared is a solution doubled.

Paper products are recyclable.

But are you telling your customers this?

Paper products are recyclable.

But are they being recycled?

Waste requires collective responsibility.

Yours. And ours.
Let’s work together

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About Fibre Circle

Fibre Circle is the producer responsibility organisation (PRO) for the paper and paper packaging sector. It facilitates extended producer responsibility (EPR) programmes for paper producers, which could encompass manufacturers and importers of paper and paper packaging as well as brand owners and retailers.

The EPR regulations have been amended and promulgated  by Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, Ms Barbara Creecy, as of 5 May 2021 making it mandatory for producers of identified products to belong to an EPR scheme and pay an EPR fee.

Fibre Circle helps companies to keep in step with this legislation, supporting its members and the broader value chain on the journey towards zero waste to landfill and a circular economy. 

The product classes identified by Government for EPR include:

About-Fiber-Circle
Newspaper

Newspaper

Magazines

Magazines

LBP

Liquid board packaging

On 5 May 2021, the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment promulgated the amended regulations under Section 18 of the National Environmental Management: Waste Act requiring companies to take practical and financial responsibility for the end-of-life of any identified product they put on to the South African market.

Office and mixed papers

Office, graphic, mixed and other paper 

Labels

Labels and backing paper

“Packaging” means any material, container or wrapping or corrugated cases, used for the containment, transport, handling, protection, promotion, marketing or sale of any product or substance, which may be primary packaging, containing the actual product or secondary packaging or tertiary packaging, typically containing products already packaged in primary packaging. [Excludes: shipping containers used solely for the transportation of any consumer commodity in bulk to manufacturers, packers, or processors, or to wholesale or retail distributors thereof; packaging made of timber and textile; and plastic pallets and industrial bulk containers with a capacity exceeding 1000 litres.]

“Paper” means any substance made from wood pulp, rags, straw, or other fibrous material used for writing, printing, or as a wrapping material;

Corrugated cases and kraft

Corrugated cases and kraft paper

Paper sacks

Paper sacks

Producers who manufacture or import a cumulative 10 tonnes of paper-based products per annum will be obliged to pay the EPR fee on a R/tonne basis. 

  • producer” means any person or category of persons, including a brand owner, who is engaged in the commercial manufacture, conversion, refurbishment (where applicable) or import of new or used identified products as identified by the Minister by Notice in the Government Gazette in terms of section 18(1) of the Act, and a producer includes, where relevant, the same as defined in the specific section 18 Notice for each of the identified products as gazetted by the Minister in terms of section 18(1) and .(2) of the Act

PAMDEV NPC (trading as Fibre Circle) has public benefit organisation status. It has also been registered with the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment (formerly Environmental Affairs) as a Producer Responsibility Organisation for the paper and paper packaging sector.

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What Fibre Circle aims to achieve

Fibre Circle aims to improve the recovery and recycling of paper and paper packaging and to develop products from recycled paper fibre that are commercially viable in their own right.

It seeks to encourage the packaging value chain – producers, importers, brand owners and retailers – to get their packaging products off the streets and away from landfills.

Fibre Circle is also driven to develop, implement and manage the paper, paper packaging, paper sack, liquid board packaging, paper cups and label industries’ national EPR scheme, in accordance with Section 18 of the National Environmental Management: Waste Act No. 59 of 2008.

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Why belong to an EPR programme?

For too long, products have been designed for disposal, rather than recovery, recycling or repurposing. This is the linear approach to waste. A company makes product, then sells it to consumers, who use it and throw it away at the end of its life.

Recycling is a better approach, because there’s less waste, but a circular approach is even better. A circular approach means that companies design their products for recovery and recycling, so that the product becomes raw material for a new product.

When it can no longer be used for its original or recycled purpose (such as packaging), a circular approach would direct it towards other uses, such as compost or fuel (waste-to-energy).

The circular economy encourages design for effective recovery and recyclability. It builds on the notion that the recycling process commences at the product’s design phase – not just at the consumer phase. By taking a step back instead of just designing packaging that is “fit for purpose”, a company can make something that can be both easily recovered and easily recycled.

Linear-Economy

Linear economy

Recycling-Economy

Recycling economy

Circular-Economy

Circular economy

A linear economy sees everything going in the bin and to landfill. In a recycling economy, we aim to divert recyclable material towards recycling mills, with less waste going to landfill. In a circular economy, however, lies the potential for zero waste.

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Why belong to Fibre Circle?

It’s expensive to design, operate and finance a waste diversion structure from scratch. In addition, while EPR is not yet a legislated and mandated requirement in South Africa, it is estimated (by Government) that the Section 18 programmes for EPR will be gazetted for implementation by January 2021.

Belonging and contributing to a voluntary programme like Fibre Circle means that companies can demonstrate both an individual and collective commitment to EPR, a cleaner South Africa, and be ahead of any legislative or mandatory requirements.

The majority of South African paper manufacturers and importers have mandated Fibre Circle to be the recognised PRO for the sector, precisely because we have the necessary expertise to co-ordinate an EPR programme for a group or class of products – ensuring that we amass the value of recyclables and make them commercially viable for recycling collectors.

While there is an environmental imperative, there must also be commercial sustainability.

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Who should belong to Fibre Circle?

All producers of identified paper and paper packaging, as per the EPR regulations, are considered ‘obliged industries’ and are encouraged to join an existing PRO such as Fibre Circle and co-construct the EPR scheme for their products. By working together to establish infrastructure and alternative systems, the objectives of the EPR legislation and the PRO’s aims can be achieved.  

The paper and paper packaging value chain includes but is not limited to:

Value-chain
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Where do your products sit on the collectability and recyclability matrix?

All types of paper contain fibre – virgin, recycled or a combination. Once converted into a paper product – whether it be a cardboard box, office paper or a beverage carton, paper products have varying degrees of collectability and recyclability depending on what has been added to give it form and function e.g. laminates, wet strength.

Some products may be recyclable but not easy to recover from the household or business waste streams – this could be due to lack of awareness, consumer convenience or infrastructure; others might be easy to collect, but less easy to recycle. 

For effective recycling and recovery, companies want to be in the top right quadrant: where their products are easy or efficient to collect or recover, and easy to recycle into new products.

The top left and bottom right quadrant require investment – in research, technology and systems ‒ to either improve the collection or processing the products into a viable material for re-use. This includes development of end markets for the recyclate. 

collectability_recoverability graph
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Coffee cup project

As a “mobile recyclable”, paper cups are difficult to recover. Think about the journey of a coffee cup after you’ve left the shop. You may drink it in the car or while you’re walking to work or watching your child’s soccer match. It will either be thrown away – at work, at home or in a public bin ‒ or unfortunately dropped as litter.

Fibre Circle is currently working on a prototype of a cup recycling bin. Made to look like a giant coffee cup, the bin has three compartments for liquids, high-impact polystyrene lids (also recyclable) and paper cups. In this way, recyclables can be amassed in one place, first in one bin, but also by having multiple bins installed in one complex such as an office building or shopping centre. This makes it easier and worthwhile for a waste collector.

Coffee-cup-project
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Members

Fibre Circle is open to membership from companies recognised by Section 18 in the Waste Act as ‘obliged industries’. It also welcomes partnerships with brand owners and retailers who make use of paper packaging to protect and market their products.

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Updates and resources

News and updates

Promotional material

Facts and figures

Government Gazettes