This month’s tracker reflects key initiatives from March 16, - April 15, 2017.

Latin America continues it vigorous and progressive introduction of wide ranging environmental and sustainability issues. Some highlighted activity to reflect the range:  

Sustainability.  Signaling what may be a future regional trend, Argentina evaluates vanguard corporate sustainability bills that would require “Social Balance” reports, requiring companies to provide quantifiable information on company conduct.

Water Rights.  A bill to enshrine the right to water as a fundamental constitutional right was reintroduced in Colombia.  

Pesticides Ban.  The Chilean House unanimously called for its President to adopt a National Plan for the Elimination of Pesticides in Chile, in efforts to buttress its international competitiveness.

Packaging Content and Wastes.  The Mexican congress evaluated a suite of bills that would promote biodegradability of packaging materials, signaling sustained focus on this issue that will likely result in eventual action.

For your convenience, we are including links for final laws and resolutions.  If you would like copies of proposed initiatives, please contact me or Tiffany Carlson.  We welcome your questions, comments, and suggestions.  

¡Gracias!

Maddie Kadas, Latin American Environmental Practice Leader

ARGENTINA

Corporate Social Responsibility Bills Proposed

Two bills proposed in the Chamber of Deputies would promote socially responsible conduct by organizations in Argentina to ensure environmental preservation and sustainable development, and guarantee the right of access to environmental and social information held by companies. Under the bills, “socially responsible conduct” would generally be defined as those acts carried out by a company that are geared toward satisfying the environmental, social, economic, and financial needs of the communities with which it is linked. If the bills are adopted as proposed, covered entities would be obligated to prepare a Social Balance report — a document to be submitted to the Implementing Authority that would include quantitative and qualitative information on the company’s socially responsible conduct.

Bill Establishing the Rights of Nature Proposed

A bill proposed in the Senate would establish that “Nature or Pacha Mama, where it reproduces and carries out life, has the right to be fully respected in its existence, and in the maintenance and regeneration of its cycles and vital functions, structure, functions, and evolutionary processes.”  The proposal would also create the Office for the Defense of Nature within the Ombudsman's Office, which would be responsible for promoting and ensuring that the Rights of Nature are upheld.

Renewable Energy Matrix Bill Reintroduced

A bill proposed in the Senate would reintroduce a previous proposal to mandate that the country’s electric energy be generated by 100% renewable sources by December 31, 2050. Compliance with this deadline would be met gradually over time with 30% renewables by 2030, 35% by 2035, 50% by 2040, 70% by 2045, and 100% by 2050. The bill is now before the Committees of Mining, Energy, and Combustibles, and Budget and Finance for review.

Environmental Protection Measures Reintroduced for Pulp & Paper Industry

A bill proposed in the Chamber of Deputies would reintroduce a previous proposal to establish minimum provisions to promote sustainable development of the Argentine pulp and paper industry, including the requirement for companies to adopt best available technologies and business practices.

Eco-participation Tax on Electronics Proposed

A bill proposed in the Chamber of Deputies would impose an “eco-participation” tax on new household appliances and general electronics sold in Argentina, used to manage products at the end of their useful lives in an ecological manner. Household appliances and general electronics would be defined as large and small appliances that are connected to the electrical grid or that contain rechargeable or non-rechargeable batteries, such as ovens, washing machines, clothes dryers, vacuum cleaners, dishwashers, microwaves, televisions, monitors, and other similar items. Covered products would also include mobile phones (smartphones and feature phones), computers and their peripherals (portable and desktop), as well as electronic tablets. The Secretariat of Environment would establish the eco-participation tax, which could not exceed 3% of the value of the product, taking into account the weight of the product and the toxicity of contained components.

Progressive Battery Recycling Bill Reintroduced

A bill proposed in the Senate would reintroduce a previous proposal to promote the adequate disposal and progressive recycling of used primary (non-rechargeable) and secondary (rechargeable) batteries. If adopted as proposed, battery manufacturers and importers in the country would be responsible for collecting and managing their end-of-life products first through Integrated Management Pilot Plans for Used Batteries. During the implementation of Pilot Plans, the Implementing Authority, in coordination with the Federal Environment Council (COFEMA), would evaluate the operation of Pilot Plans and based on this assessment, gradually implement a National Integrated Management Plan for Used Batteries, which would include progressive collection and recycling targets.

Bill to Protect Against Toxic Lighting Reintroduced

A bill proposed in the Chamber of Deputies would reintroduce a previous proposal to establish environmental protection measures for compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), fluorescent tubes, and other types of lighting devices that contain toxic elements. Among its key provisions, the bill would create a new collection program for used CFLs and fluorescent tubes, outline package labeling requirements, and establish a sanctions regime.

BRAZIL

House Committee Approves Child Protective Packaging Bill

The Constitutional, Justice, and Citizenship Committee in the Chamber of Deputies approved amendments to a bill which would determine the use of special protective packaging for medicines and chemicals for domestic use that present potential health risks. Packages would need to be made in such a way that a child under five years of age would have difficulty opening it. Proposed amendments include the requirement for plastic packaging to display a graphic warning on the risk of child suffocation and a list of covered products.

Reverse Logistics Systems for Medicines Proposed

A bill proposed in the Chamber of Deputies would modify the National Solid Waste Policy (No. 12.305/2010) to require manufacturers, importers, distributors, and retailers of medicines to develop and implement a reverse logistics system for their product wastes and packaging, while consumers would be responsible for returning these items to retailers or distributors to facilitate the process.

Mercury Ban in Dentistry Open for Public Comment

The National Health Surveillance Agency (ANVISA) has posted a motion to prohibit the manufacture, import, marketing, and use of mercury and amalgam alloy in unencapsulated form, intended for use in dentistry. The proposal was developed in support of the country’s commitments under the Minamata Convention on mercury, which aims to eliminate the use of mercury in various products, such as batteries, lamps and health equipment, among others. Public comments will be accepted until May 29, 2017.

National Water Management Program Will Be Renewed

The Ministry of Environment announced that the Consolidation Program of the National Pact for Water Management will be renewed for another five years with $1 million Brazilian Real allocated annually to each state to invest in water resources, totaling $135 million Brazilian Real over the designated timespan.

CHILE

House Calls for Adoption of National Pesticides Elimination Plan

The Chamber of Deputies unanimously approved a resolution requesting that the President, Michelle Bachelet, adopt a National Plan for the Elimination of Pesticides that: (i) has clear goals and deadlines for current chemicals to be replaced by products of natural origin, (ii) proposes the creation of a quality label certifying the absence of pesticides in agricultural foods, and (iii) promotes research and development of organic pesticides to determine the feasibility of their commercial use on a large scale. The resolution was spurred on by the notion that pesticides can deteriorate the environment through soil and waterways and that their use in food production may affect Chile’s exports as international markets are increasingly demanding the absence of these chemicals.

COLOMBIA

First Comprehensive Land Management Policy Published

For the first time, Colombia has a Sustainable Land Management Policy, an important decision-making tool that provides guidelines for responsible management of this resource in the areas of biodiversity, water, and air conservation, land planning, and risk management. The Policy’s action plan spans twenty years and includes an evaluation by the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development (MADS) every five years to determine the need for Policy adjustments.

Water As A Fundamental Right Bill Reintroduced in the Senate

Senator Jorge Prieto, with the support of 51 congressmen from various political parties, filed a bill that would modify the Federal Constitution to declare water a fundamental right.  An identical bill was proposed in 2016 and received unanimous approval over six debates in the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate, but ultimately failed due to matters of procedure and timing during the last few weeks of legislative activity in Congress.

Draft Renewable Energy and Efficient Management of Energy Fund Published

The Ministry of Mines and Energy (MinMinas) has published a draft decree that would modify the Single Regulatory Decree of the Mines and Energy Sector (No. 1073/2015) to add provisions establishing guidelines for the Renewable Energy and Efficient Management of Energy Fund (Spanish acronym FENOGE), created in Law No. 1715/2014, which promotes non-conventional, renewable energies. Resources from FENOGE would go to help financing plans, programs, or projects for the implementation of: (i) generation, cogeneration, or self-generation solutions, based on non-conventional, renewable energy sources, and (ii) energy efficiency measures, and other supporting activities.

Bill Promoting Solar Energy in Educational and Health Infrastructure Proposed

A bill proposed in the Chamber of Deputies would promote the development and use of solar energy in new educational and health service infrastructure in which national, regional, departmental, and municipal government entities, located in certain designated areas, invest resources. If the bill is adopted as proposed, covered public entities would be required to comply with these rules within six months of their publication in the Official Gazette.

Used Tire Selective Collection and Environmental Management Systems Proposed

The Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development (MADS) has published a draft regulation that would require producers of tires sold in the country to develop, present, implement, and maintain Used Tire Selective Collection and Environmental Management Systems that would need to comply with progressive annual collection and environmental management targets. The proposed rule would apply to producers of certain quantities of tires per year, as well as importers, manufacturers, and assemblers of certain quantities of vehicles per year.

COSTA RICA

Proposed Modifications to Energy Use Law Would Establish Energy Efficiency Measures for Equipment

A bill proposed in the Legislative Assembly would modify the Law for the Rational Use of Energy (No. 7447/1994) to introduce provisions instituting energy efficiency measures for machines, vehicles, and equipment. Notably, the provisions would charge the Ministry of Environment and Energy (MINAE) with establishing energy efficiency requirements through technical regulations for the manufacture, import, and marketing of energy-consuming equipment. These technical regulations would set acceptable energy efficiency ranges and would include the obligation for equipment to display energy efficiency labels. For equipment considered less efficient based on acceptable energy efficiency ranges, the selective consumption tax would be increased up to an additional thirty percentage points from the rate established in the Tax Reform Law (No. 4961/1972) and its amendments. All commercial establishments that sell or distribute energy-consuming equipment would need to ensure the presence of energy efficiency labels to conduct their business activities.

ECUADOR

Hazardous Materials Technical Standard Goes Into Effect

On March 23, 2017, technical regulation RTE INEN 078 for the “Transport, Storage, and Handling of Hazardous Materials” went into effect, establishing mandatory requirements to prevent risks to health, safety, and the environment.

Guidelines to Obtain Voluntary Energy Efficiency Designation for Electrical Products Published

The Ministry of Electricity and Renewable Energy has published guidelines for entities that voluntarily elect to certify their electrical products under the Ministry’s energy efficiency standards. The certification is intended to stimulate the market by generating competition for the sale of energy efficient products.

MEXICO  

PET Container and Packaging Waste Management Bill Proposed

A bill proposed in the Chamber of Deputies would modify the General Law for the Prevention and Integrated Management of Wastes to add a new provision requiring producers and consumers of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) containers and packaging to promote the reduction, reuse, and integrated management of their wastes, as well as awareness about their use and recycling. Specifically, producers would be obligated to include legends, pictograms, or images on the ecological and environmental damage caused by PET wastes on the labels of products that use such materials in their containers and packaging.

Bills Promoting Biodegradable Materials in Bags, Packaging, and Containers Proposed

Three bills proposed in the Mexican Congress would modify the General Law for the Prevention and Integrated Management of Wastes to include provisions promoting the use of biodegradable materials in Bags, Packaging, and Containers.

  • The first bill, proposed in the Senate, would hold the Federal Government responsible for issuing Mexican Official Standards (NOMs) that establish the use of biodegradable and natural materials in products, containers, and packaging, taking into consideration the care of the environment and principles of waste reduction, recycling, and reuse. The proposal would also call for the Federal Government to establish and implement a national program for the replacement of expanded polystyrene containers, packaging, and utensils with biodegradable materials, in coordination with non-governmental organizations, higher education institutions, and other associated agencies.
  • The second bill, proposed in the Chamber of Deputies, would hold the Federal Government responsible for issuing the Regulation on Environmental and Technological Efficiency, which would set requirements for materials used in plastic and expanded polystyrene products, containers, packaging, and bags, considering the principles of waste reduction, recycling, and reuse. The Secretariat of Environment (SEMARNAT) would be charged with developing and implementing the National Program for the Management and Substitution of Plastics within the framework of the Regulation, which would aim to replace plastic and expanded polystyrene products, packaging, and containers with bioplastic, biodegradable, and fast-decomposing products. Lastly, the bill would establish definitions for “biodegradable product” and “plastic product,” and would re-classify urban solid waste into organic, inorganic, and plastic subcategories.
  • The third bill, proposed in the Chamber of Deputies, would call for the Federal Government to regulate and establish the basis for prohibiting the delivery of plastic bags to the final consumer, either free of charge or for a price, for transportation or loading purposes in connection with any commercial activity. The proposal would also hold the Federal Government responsible for promoting mechanisms to reduce and/or eliminate plastic bag and expanded polystyrene plastic product waste and encourage the use of biodegradable materials.

Voluntary GHG Quantification and Reporting Standard for Organizations in Effect

A voluntary standard has been published in the Official Gazette that describes the principles, concepts, and methods related to the quantification and reporting of direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions for an organization, and provides guidance for the application of NMX-SAA-14064-1-IMNC-2007. While the standard does not have any international equivalent, it is based on the International Technical Report ISO / TR 14069: 2013 Greenhouse gases-Quantification and reporting of greenhouse gas emissions for organizations-Guidance for the application of ISO 14064-1. Ed 1 (May 2013). Voluntary standards can become mandatory through incorporation by reference in binding standards or permit provisions.

PERU

Energy Efficiency Labeling Regulation for Energy Consuming Equipment Approved

A Supreme Decree (No. 009-2017-EM), published in the Official Gazette, approves the Energy Efficiency Labeling Regulation for Energy Consuming Equipment, which establishes technical requirements for labeling various household electrical products with energy efficiency information and sets energy efficiency ranges to classify them. Specifically, the Regulation covers nine electrical products for domestic use: (i) lamps for general illumination, (ii) ballasts of fluorescent lamps for general illumination, (iii) refrigerators, (iv) boilers, (v) asynchronous or three-phase induction motors, (vi) washing machines, (vii) dryers, (viii) air conditioners, and (ix) water heaters. The Regulation enters into force one year after its publication date.