Electrical goods. Picture: HERALD
A proposed levy may raise the cost of electrical goods. Picture: HERALD

THE Department of Environmental Affairs has proposed a levy on all products that have an electrical plug in a bid to manage the disposal of those items when they are defunct, and so limit harm to the environment.

The levy, which is meant to fund a recycling facility, may increase the cost of a wide range of consumer goods.

"The department is of the view that the manufacturers are producing equipment containing hazardous material and hence must take responsibility for managing the waste stream effectively," Albi Modise, spokesman for the department, said this week.

According to the department, many electrical products are found in landfill sites and pose a "serious health risk to humans and significant threats to the environment".

Currently, the management of waste electronic and electrical equipment consists of limited collection, dismantling, refurbishment and exportation.

The department is considering improvement of the management of various waste streams, of which electronic and electrical equipment is one, said Mr Modise.

"The imposition of the environmental levy or tax is being considered for those sectors," he said. He would not confirm if the levy would be 10%, as has been claimed by an industry group.

Business has raised concern that the levy was likely to lead to price increases in a wide range of electrical goods such as toasters, kettles and microwave ovens.

Mr Modise said the proposed levy "may or may not have an impact on the price of the goods". The proposed levy sought to "strengthen the polluter-pays principle".

The department has held workshops with about 100 stakeholders, including manufacturers. The industry will be tasked with developing a waste management plan, which must address how the waste value chain will be managed, and the related costs. The industry will work closely with the Waste Management Bureau, which is to be established under the recently promulgated National Environmental Management Waste Amendment Act.

The implementation of the plan would be financed through the Waste Management Bureau, using industry funds.