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 manufacturers and importers as well as brand owners and retailers.

It is important that any paper product is made using responsibly sourced pulp from sustainably managed forests and/or plantations. Trees are specially cultivated for the purpose of paper making. Once mature, a small percentage of trees is harvested, chipped and made into a pulp. Within the same year, new trees are planted in their place. This is why paper is a renewable resource. 

A number of paper products are also made from recycled paper fibre which is sourced from used cardboard boxes, white paper, milk and juice cartons and paper cups as well as newspaper, magazines and cereal boxes. 

Extended producer responsibility regulations were gazetted by Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, Ms Barbara Creecy, on 5 November 2020 which will hold businesses accountable to reduce the environmental impact of their products and packaging. And it’s not just about the consumer phase of the supply chain: producers’ and importers’ responsibilities span the entire product management lifecycle.

Fibre Circle helps companies to keep in step and ahead of the legislation, supporting its members and the broader value chain by diverting paper and paper-based packaging away from South Africa’s landfills, and into recycling programmes. The recycled paper is made into new products that supply chains rely on to protect and transport goods every day, as well as daily essentials like tissue products.

Producers and importers of paper products can however voluntarily belong to Fibre Circle by paying an EPR fee. This fee is levied on the tonnage of paper, paper packaging, paper sacks, liquid board packaging, and paper cups and labels products they sell to the South African market.

The product classes currently identified by Government for EPR include:




Paper packaging and packaging papers


Liquid board packaging


Paper cups


Paper sacks


Labels and backing paper

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.


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.


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


Recycling 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.


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.


Who should belong to Fibre Circle?

All producers and importers of paper, paper packaging and liquid board packaging, both filled and unfilled, are considered ‘obliged industries’ and are encouraged to be part of Fibre Circle and invest resources in developing strategic EPR programmes. Fibre Circle and its members can work together to establish infrastructure and alternative systems to support waste minimisation and improve the collection and reprocessing of recyclables.

Printing and writing paper
  • Local producers and manufacturers
  • Paper merchants and importers
Paper packaging
  • Local producers and manufacturers of primary and secondary paper packaging
  • Merchants and importers
Paper sacks
  • Local producers and manufacturers (PAMSA members)
  • Importers of sack kraft
Liquid board packaging
  • Importers of filled or unfilled LBP for beverage cartons
  • Importers of LBP for paper cups
  • Local producers and manufacturers (PAMSA members)
  • Paper merchants and importers

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


About paper and its good story

All types of paper contain fibre – virgin, recycled or a combination – and they have varying degrees of recoverability and recyclability. 

One of the least understood facts about paper products (and all harvested wood products) is that they store carbon. A tree will absorb carbon – and release oxygen – throughout its life, thanks to the wonderful process of photosynthesis. The carbon is stored in the wood, leaves and roots. Even when the wood is made into a product, the carbon stays locked up – until the product decays or degrades. It’s one of the reasons why recycling is key as the recycling keeps the carbon stored in the paper fibres for longer.

Another important matter is that of renewability. Certain species of trees are grown specifically for use as paper or wood products we use everyday. Each year, a small percentage of mature trees are harvested. These trees are replaced within the same year with saplings, ensuring the sustained supply of timber for years to come. It also keeps the carbon balance in check.

Recoverability and recyclability

When it comes to the recycling of paper products, there are a number of things to consider. Some products may be recyclable but not easy to recover from the household or business waste streams; others might be more recoverable, 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 recover, and are easy to recycle into new products.

The top left and bottom right quadrant require investment – in technology and systems ‒ to either improve the recoverability or re-process the products into a viable material for re-use.

Some products are considered unrecoverable such as toilet tissue, cigarette paper and archival material such as books and important documents.


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.



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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