This month’s tracker reflects key initiatives from February 15 – March 15, 2016.

Greetings! Spring has sprung and the legislatures are back in full force and active on scores of new initiatives regulating a range of issues. Following the Climate Change negotiations in Paris, a great deal of focus is on energy efficiency reforms, and lighting efficiency proposals abound. There is no slowdown in eco-labeling and right-to-know proposals. New product footprint measures are also on the rise. 

ARGENTINA

MTBE Phase-Out in Gasoline Proposed

A bill (No. 32/16) proposed in the Senate would gradually replace Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether (MTBE) in gasoline with ethanol over a 4-year period. The ethanol-to-gasoline ratio would need to be at least 15%.

Water Footprint Measurement System Proposed

A Bill (No. 112/16) proposed in the Senate would create a water footprint measurement and labeling system to calculate the amount of water used in the production of goods and the provision of services, promoting responsible use of fresh water.

Carbon Footprint Measurement System Proposed

A bill (No. 624/16) proposed in the Senate would create a carbon footprint measurement and labeling system in order to calculate GHG emissions from industrial processes and consumer products. Participating entities would be eligible for a 10% reduction in their income taxes.

Climate Change Adaptation and GHG Mitigation Strategies Proposed

A bill (No. 0289-D-2016) proposed in the Chamber of Deputies would outline tools and strategies for adaptation to global climate change and mitigation of GHGs. Key components include creation of the National Climate Change Adaptation Plan and actionable measures for each jurisdiction to ensure the protection of natural systems and key economic sectors.

Access to Biological Resources Bill Proposed

A bill (No. 154/16) proposed in the Senate would establish a system for accessing biological resources intended for research or bioprospecting. Notably, interested entities would be required to obtain an access permit authorized by the Granting Authority within each jurisdiction where the biological resources were located.

Phytosanitary Container Management Bill Reintroduced

A bill (No. 0705-D-2016) has been reintroduced in the Chamber of Deputies to establish the National Program for the Management of Containers for Phytosanitary Products. The primary objectives of the bill would be to: (i) develop a management system for the collection, return, storage, transport, recycling and/or final disposal of empty phytosanitary product containers through extended producer responsibility principles; (ii) encourage the creation of companies dedicated to the final treatment of these containers and thereby increase their recycling; and (iii) promote research into alternative materials to use for phytosanitary product containers and environmentally-friendly container treatment techniques.

Voluntary Ecolabeling Program Bill Reintroduced

A bill (No. 241/16) has been reintroduced in the Senate that would establish a voluntary ecolabeling program for manufacturers and importers of products and providers of services that demonstrate reduced environmental impact. Specifically, the ecolabel would be awarded to products and services that support air, water, or soil quality improvements, waste elimination, energy conservation, ozone layer protection, environmental safety, noise reduction, or biodiversity preservation.

Comprehensive WEEE-RoHS Bill Reintroduced

A bill (No. 0703-D-2016) has been reintroduced in the Chamber of Deputies that would impose producer take-back requirements for electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) and would provide the framework for an Argentine Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive (RoHS).

Mercury Product Phase-Out Bill Reintroduced

A bill (No. 0017-D-2016) has been reintroduced for the third time in the Chamber of Deputies to eliminate the production, marketing, and sale of any medical, dental, or domestic-use item containing mercury and to promote the use of mercury alternatives. The proposal targets public and private healthcare establishments and would cover a range of mercury-containing products, including batteries and fluorescent tubes.

National Healthcare Waste Management Guidelines Approved

The Ministry of Health has published a resolution (No. 134/2016) approving the National Guidelines for the Management of Waste from Healthcare Establishments. Within one year from the publication of the Resolution (i.e. February 16, 2017), all public healthcare establishments must develop a waste management plan in accordance with the Guidelines.

Draft Resolution Calls for SAyDS Response to Glacier Protection Inquiries

A draft resolution (No. 0583-D-2016) has been proposed in the Chamber of Deputies calling for the Ministry of Environment (SAyDS) to respond to a series of inquiries surrounding glacier protection measures, including the pending National Glacier Inventory.

BRAZIL

INMETRO Extends Compliance Deadline for LED Lamps

The National Institute of Metrology, Quality and Technology (INMETRO) has published Portaria No. 76/2016, extending the compliance deadline for Portaria No. 144/2015, a technical standard that establishes testing, labeling, and registration requirements for integrated Light Emitting Diode (LED) lamps. Producers will now have 11 months, rather than 9 months, to manufacture and import covered products in accordance with Portaria No. 144/2015.

Ecologically Balanced Environment As a Fundamental Right Progresses

A bill (No. 13/2015) modifying the Federal Constitution to add an “ecologically balanced environment” to the list of fundamental rights has been approved by the Constitution, Justice and Citizenship Committee in the Senate. The Bill will now face two rounds of discussion before it is voted on by the full Senate.

Incentives for Investment in Recycling Projects Advances

Two environmental bills have been approved by the Special Committee for National Development, responsible for reviewing bills under the “Brazil Agenda”—a list of proposed initiatives presented by the President of the Senate to encourage economic growth. The first bill (No. 187/2012) establishes incentives for investing in recycling projects, and the second bill (No. 741/2015) requires money acquired through environmental fines be used in recovery efforts for the areas where the damage occurred.

São Paulo Nanotech Labeling Bill Gains Momentum

A bill (No. 1456/2015) in São Paulo’s State Legislative Assembly that would require labeling of all "nanotechnology products" and "products that make use of nanotechnology" has gained traction in recent months. The Bill has now been passed by two committees: the Committee on the Constitution, Justice and Revision on December 9, 2015 and the Committee on Human Rights, Citizenship, Participation and Social Questions on March 9, 2016.

INMETRO Approves Voluntary Environmental Declaration and Ecolabeling Program

The National Institute of Metrology, Quality and Technology (INMETRO) has published Portaria 110/2016, which approves a voluntary ecolabeling program based on products' environmental impacts throughout their life cycle. The basis of the program is the development of a standardized Product Environmental Declaration ("DAP"), a document that reports data regarding the product’s environmental impact through a format prescribed for that product category. The foundation for the DAP is the existing technical standard NBR 14025:2006, Brazil's adaptation of the international standard ISO 14025, "Environmental Labels and Declarations - Type III Environmental Declarations - Principles and Procedures."

National Water Resources Plan Open for Public Comment

The 2016-2020 National Water Resources Plan is open for public comment until May 1, 2016. The Plan is intended to guide implementation of national policy and management of water resources in the country, which is currently struggling with crippling drought conditions.

CHILE

Extended Producer Responsibility Bill in Final Stages

Now in the third constitutional phase of the regulatory approval process, Boletín 9094-12, a comprehensive waste management and extended producer responsibility bill, has been approved by the full Senate and sent to the House for review. Expected to pass in the near future, the Bill would impose take-back requirements for a wide range of "priority products," including waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE), cells and batteries, and containers and packaging.

2050 National Energy Policy Approved

The Ministry of Energy has published Decree 148/2015, approving the 2050 National Energy Policy. Notably, the Policy contains these goals: 70% of the primary categories of equipment sold in the domestic market will be energy efficient by 2035, and 100% will be energy efficient by 2050. The Ministry of Energy will act as the implementing authority and will be responsible for providing an annual progress report to its Civil Society Council.

Creation of Environment Public Defender Approved By House

A draft resolution (No. 497), calling for the Ministry of Mining and the Ministry Finance and Justice to create a Public Defender for the Environment, has been approved by the Chamber of Deputies. The Defender would be responsible for protecting the rights and guarantees consecrated in the Federal Constitution and the General Environment Law, as well as providing legal representation for the poor who have been affected by environmental damages.

Deputies Call for National Water Campaign

In response to water shortages in Chile, a resolution (No. 499) calling for the President to conduct a national water campaign has been approved by the Chamber of Deputies. The main objectives of the campaign would be to raise public awareness about water problems in the country, the water management public policies currently in place, and the need for water conservation, as well as to facilitate communication between the three levels of government and the general public in order to devise long-term solutions for water sustainability.

COLOMBIA

Climate Change Decree Approved

The National Climate Change Decree (SISCLIMA) has been approved by the Ministry of Environment, along with eight other ministries. The main objectives of SISCLIMA are to “coordinate, articulate, formulate, monitor and evaluate policies, rules, strategies, plans, programs, projects, actions and measures related to the adaptation to climate change and mitigation of greenhouse gases” through collaborative efforts between public and private entities and nonprofit organizations.

Public Lighting Regulation Modified

The Ministry of Mines and Energy (MINMINAS) has published a resolution (No. 40122) that would modify the General Annex to the Technical Regulation for Illumination and Public Lighting (RETILAP) by introducing and altering a number of definitions, adding several transitory articles, and adjusting general requirements.

Rules on Minor Changes to Environmental Licenses Published

The Ministry of Environment has published a resolution (No. 0376) that establishes that an entity does not need to modify its environmental license or its equivalent when there are minor changes or standard adjustments to activities in energy, dam, reservoir, or water diversion projects.

COSTA RICA

Draft Standard on Carbon Neutrality Published

The Costa Rican Institute for Technical Standards (INTEC) has published draft standard PN INTE 12-01-06:2016 CP to establish requirements for organizations to demonstrate carbon neutrality. The standard applies to all types of organizations, regardless of size, geographic location or business activity. Benefits to participating organizations would include the ability to make carbon neutrality claims in marketing campaigns.

MEXICO

PCB Management Standard Goes Into Effect

Secretariat of Environment (SEMARNAT) has published NOM-133-SEMARNAT-2015, a technical standard for the management of Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs). The new PCB rules establish requirements for PCB holders and generators, which include properly storing, transporting, treating, and disposing of contaminated equipment and waste, as well as developing a decommissioning program with a 2025 phase-out deadline for all PCB-containing equipment.

Mandatory Primary Separation of Waste Bill Proposed

A Draft Decree proposed in the Chamber of Deputies would modify the General Waste Law (“GWL”) to require the primary separation of urban solid waste. Under current GWL provisions, the separation of organic and inorganic urban solid waste is optional, not mandatory.

Electricity as a Human Right Initiative Proposed

An initiative proposed in the Chamber of Deputies would modify the Federal Constitution to recognize electricity as a human right. The new provision holds that every person has the right to access and be provided with electrical services and that the State will respect, protect, and ensure the supply of electrical power through a fair social tariff.

Light Contamination Initiative Proposed

An initiative has been proposed in the Chamber of Deputies to modify the Law for Ecological Equilibrium and Environmental Protection to regulate light contamination and intrusive or bothersome light. These new provisions are intended to boost energy savings, reduce GHG emissions and decrease disruption to light sensitive species and ecosystems.

CEC Issues Determination on Mexico Analog TV Submission

The Secretariat of the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) has determined that a submission (SEM-15-002) from several individuals and NGOs asserting that Mexico is failing to effectively enforce environmental laws as it implements the "National Program for the Integral Management of Analog Televisions Discarded Due to the Transition to Digital Televisions" warrants a response from the Government of Mexico within 30 days (i.e. by April 15, 2016).

PERU

Used Tire Management Bill Proposed

A bill (No. 05182/2015-CR) has been proposed in the Peruvian unicameral congress to establish that public and private entities involved in the construction of roads must utilize discarded tires in the asphalt mixture .

MINAM Conducts Training to Prepare for RETC Implementation

The Ministry of Environment (MINAM) began carrying out training programs for local and regional governments and the general public as it rolls out the national Registry of Emissions and Transfer of Pollutants (RETC), a public database of potentially hazardous contaminant or waste emissions and transfers generated in industrial or non-industrial activities. Since the beginning of 2016, more than 50 companies are voluntary participating in the RETC.

MINAM Announces WEEE Management Developments; Focuses on Lighting Equipment

The Ministry of Environment (MINAM) recently made two important announcements pertaining to the management of Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE): (i) producers of lighting equipment must submit WEEE management plans by August 2016 that contain voluntary targets for waste separation, and (ii) the National Plan for the Implementation of the Minamata Convention on Mercury (a substance that can be used in bulbs and other lighting devices) is under development and should go into effect by 2017.

PUERTO RICO

Modifications to Tire Management Law Proposed

A proposal (P C2832) to amend the Law for the Adequate Management of Tires in Puerto Rico (No. 41/2009) has been proposed in the Chamber of Deputies to modify the definitions of “tire importer” and “tire import license” and establish a prohibition on importing used tires from the U.S.