This month’s tracker reflects key initiatives from September 16 – October 15, 2016.
Initiatives to reduce and manage packaging wastes appear to be gaining traction, particularly in Argentina, which enacted a new pesticide packaging take-back law and saw two new bills to establish general packaging take-back and recycling systems, and in Mexico, where legislators introduced bills to curtail the use of plastic shopping bags and require management of expanded polystyrene wastes. Attention to sustainable products is also growing in the region, with ecolabeling bills in Argentina and Brazil, and a bill in Chile to stimulate imports of several types of green technology. The issue of water as a basic human right is on the agenda in both Chile, where a committee approved a bill to prioritize human consumption over other uses of water, and Peru, with two recently introduced bills proposing to add access to water to its constitutionally guaranteed human rights.
Pesticide Container Take-back Law Enacted
On October 11, 2016, Law No. 27279 was published in Argentina’s Official Gazette, establishing environmental protection measures for the management of empty pesticide containers. Under the Law, all individuals and companies that have obtained a Pesticide Certificate of Use and Sale must register with the Ministry of Agriculture. Registrants are responsible for, among other things: (i) proposing an Integrated Management System for Empty Pesticide Containers within 90 days of the Law’s publication; (ii) implementing the System within 270 days after the proposal is approved; (iii) identifying and labeling containers to ensure efficient functioning of the System, and (iv) designing pesticide containers in a manner that minimizes their environmental impact.
New Comprehensive Packaging Waste Management Bill Proposed
A bill proposed in Argentina’s Chamber of Deputies would establish a comprehensive packaging waste management regime that would incorporate many of the extended producer responsibility mechanisms seen in previous packaging proposals, including the creation of management systems and labeling requirements.
WEEE Management Bill Proposed
A bill proposed in Argentina’s Chamber of Deputies would establish minimum environmental protection measures for the management of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE). The bill would impose a range of obligations on producers, including: (i) establishing, managing, and financing individual and/or collective WEEE management systems; (ii) marking their products with the “no dustbin” symbol shown in Annex II, and (iii) providing WEEE managers with information on proper dismantling techniques, identification of components and materials suitable for reuse and recycling, and the presence of hazardous substances.
National Registry of Ecologically Designed Products Proposed
A bill proposed in Argentina’s Chamber of Deputies would create the National Registry for Ecologically Designed Products, a voluntary certification program for companies seeking recognition for products that possess qualities or characteristics that reduce their environmental impact throughout their life cycle. Companies enrolled in the Registry would be eligible for a range of benefits, including the use of a special logo and the ability to display the phrase “Ecologically Designed Product” on labels, packaging, and advertising materials.
Bill to Promote Recycling of Packaging Waste Proposed
A bill proposed in Argentina’s Chamber of Deputies would establish environmental protection requirements for the management of packaging waste, incorporating the principle of extended producer responsibility and the role of recyclers. If approved, the bill would require producers, packagers, importers, and manufacturers of packaging materials to establish, organize, and finance packaging waste management systems and label packaging to facilitate collection and recycling.
Modifications to Incandescent Lamp Import Law Proposed
A bill proposed in Argentina’s Chamber of Deputies would modify the Incandescent Lamp Import Law (No. 26.473) to include a provision prohibiting the import and sale of all types and models of halogen lamps beginning December 31, 2017. The bill would also authorize the government to institute measures, such as reduction or elimination of customs duties, to facilitate the import of energy saving LED lamps, including their parts, supplies, components, and/or equipment necessary for their production.
"Green Seal" Ecolabel with Tax Incentives Proposed
A bill proposed in Brazil’s Chamber of Deputies would amend several existing proposals for a "Green Seal" ecolabel program to recognize ecologically sustainable products and manufacturing processes. Under the bill, certified products would be eligible for reductions of up to 75% of industrialized product taxes, and certified companies would be eligible for reductions of up to 50% of their corporate income taxes.
Bill Prohibiting Mercury-Containing Products in Healthcare Facilities Proposed
A bill proposed in the Chamber of Deputies would prohibit the use, handling, and storage of mercury-containing products in healthcare facilities and create rules for handling and disposing of mercury-containing materials. The bill would apply broadly, but emphasizes dental amalgam and thermometers as products of concern.
Government Signs Agreement with Industry for Sustainable Production & Consumption
The National Confederation of Industry (CNI) signed a technical cooperation agreement with the Ministries of Environment (MMA) and Industry, Trade, and Services (MDIC) to promote sustainable production, as envisioned in the Sustainable Production and Consumption Action Plan (PPCS). The agreement establishes, among other commitments, a pledge to develop products and services that minimize environmental impact through the reduction of energy consumption, raw materials, and the generation of waste and emissions. CNI represents Brazil’s 27 state industrial councils and 1,245 sectoral trade associations, together representing almost 700,000 companies.
House Approves Bill That Would Reduce Import Tariffs on Green Products
Chile’s Chamber of Deputies approved a bill that would modify the Customs Tariff Law (No. 18.687) to gradually reduce import tariffs from 6% to zero on products that contribute to green growth and sustainable development—such as equipment used for renewable energy generation (e.g. solar panels and wind turbines), hazardous waste incineration, air and water treatment (e.g. filters, centrifuges, and dryers), solid waste material recovery (e.g. grinders, mixers, and homogenizing mixers), and laboratory analysis, among others.
House Committee Approves Bill Prioritizing Water for Human Consumption
The Finance Committee of Chile’s Chamber of Deputies approved a bill to amend the Water Code to prioritize water uses: first for human consumption, followed by basic services, and the productive sector last. The bill proceeds to consideration by the Chamber as a whole.
National Policy for Occupational Health and Safety Published
The Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare has published the National Policy for Occupational Health and Safety. The Policy’s primary objectives are to: (i) develop and promote a culture of risk prevention through education and training; (ii) improve the regulatory framework; (iii) strengthen institutional oversight; (iv) ensure the quality and timeliness of benefits provided by insurance companies; (v) promote gender equality in the workplace; (vi) reduce the occurrence of occupational accidents and diseases; and (vii) help informal workers obtain social security.
Colombia Seeks to Ratify Minamata Convention
Environment Minister Luis Gilberto Murillo has introduced a bill in the Colombian Senate to ratify the Minamata Convention, the global treaty to protect human health and the environment from emissions and releases of mercury and its compounds. The Convention currently has 32 of the 50 ratifications needed for it to go into effect. Colombia has already set goals of eliminating mercury use in mining by 2018 and in all industries by 2023.
The Colombian Ministry of Mines and Energy (MINMINAS) has amended the Technical Regulation for Labeling Electrical and Fuel Gas Equipment (RETIQ), which establishes energy efficiency testing, certification, and labeling standards for various appliances and lighting products. The amendments are intended to address industry concerns by temporarily suspending certain labeling requirements and repealing a requirement determined to be unnecessary.
National Registry for Greenhouse Gas Reduction Proposed
The Ministry of Environment has proposed a draft decree that would establish the National Registry for the Reduction of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions, a public information system listing projects that potentially qualify for payments or other compensation for GHG reductions. The Registry would consolidate existing registries: (i) the National Registry of Programs and Projects to Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD +); (ii) the National Registry of Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs); (iii) the National Registry of Programs and Projects of the Clean Development Mechanism; and (iv) the National Registry of Low Carbon Projects (PDBC).
Colombia’s Ministry of Environment (MinAmbiente) has revised its National WEEE Management Policy, which includes the following goals: (i) develop regulations to implement its 2013 WEEE take-back law (No. 1672); (ii) require WEEE take-back systems for all the major categories of electronics imported into or manufactured in Colombia; (iii) by 2018, implement the National Registry of EEE Producers and Sellers and the National Registry of WEEE Managers; (iv) develop alternative uses for hazardous materials or components recovered from WEEE; and (v) expand the geographic scope of WEEE take-back systems to cover the majority of Colombia.
Penalties for Free Plastic Bags Proposed
A bill proposed in the Mexican Senate would amend the General Waste Law to make it a punishable offense for commercial establishments to provide plastic bags free of charge, and clarify that both individuals and companies are subject to punishment for all violations of that Law.
Bill to Regulate Expanded Polystyrene Wastes Proposed
A bill proposed in the Mexican Senate would amend the General Waste Law to promote measures to reduce, reuse and recycle expanded polystyrene. The bill would designate expanded polystyrene as a special management waste and make the federal government responsible for creating associated storage centers, implementing recycling systems, and developing guides on waste separation. The bill would also call for the Secretariat of Environment (SEMARNAT) to establish a national registration system for waste management plans, and would add failure to present a required waste management plan to the Law’s list of punishable violations.
A decree published in Mexico City’s Official Gazette amends several of its laws to incorporate the term “ecological footprint,” defined as the sustainability indicator that measures the degree of impact of individuals, organizations, cities, regions, or countries on the environment. The definition specifies that this indicator can be used to determine the terrestrial, atmospheric, aquatic and marine space needed to produce the natural resources that comprise an ecological footprint.
The Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) released a report analyzing the amount of used electronics traded among Canada, Mexico and the United States and exported to the rest of the world. The report, Quantitative Characterization of Domestic and Transboundary Flows of Used Electronic Products, was prepared by experts from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and other institutions. The report estimates that in 2010, Canada exported between 55,000 and 114,000 used computers and 22,000 to 218,000 used monitors; Mexico exported approximately 315,000 used computers and 215,000 used monitors; and the United States exported between 1.1 million and 7 million used computers and 779,000 to 5.7 million used monitors.
The Operations Manual for the National Conservation of Forests and Climate Change Program, which has the primary goal of conserving 54 million hectares of tropical forests, has been approved. The manual is a technical document that establishes the Program’s function, structure, scope, and implementation process, as well as the roles and responsibilities of its administrators.
Two Bills Proposed to Establish a Fundamental Right to Water
A bill proposed in Peru’s unicameral Congress would amend the federal Constitution to declare water a fundamental and inalienable human right. A similar bill would amend the Constitution to declare access to potable water and sanitation as fundamental human rights.