In the past two years certain jurisdictions enacted several ministerial decisions aimed at regulating the handling and disposal of waste electric and electronic equipment (WEEE). This trend was spearheaded by the city of Buenos Aires in 2008,(1) followed by the province of Buenos Aires in early 2011.(2)

On November 2 2011 the Senate of the province of Buenos Aires passed the first law in the country establishing the principles, liabilities and obligations for the sustainable management of WEEE.

The new law aims to:

  • prevent and reduce the generation of WEEE;
  • protect the environment;
  • promote the reuse and recycling of such waste; and
  • modify the conduct of individuals that are part of the lifecycle of electric and electronic devices.

The law defines 'WEEE' as "electric or electronic devices that have been disposed of or are to be disposed of, including their internal components and consumables, from the moment they become waste". The law's Annex I(a) provides for different categories of WEEE. Annex I(b) lists the products included within the scope of the definition of 'electric and electronic devices' and 'WEEE'.

The law further provides for the different treatment of existing WEEE from that generated following enactment of the law.

The law also creates a mechanism by means of which end users are allowed to return WEEE to sellers when replacing existing equipment. Receipt and adequate disposal by sellers are mandatory under the law. It also provides for the creation of specific disposal units to be located in each municipality of the province, where users of electric and electronic devices will be allowed to dispose of WEEE. In such units, WEEE will be decontaminated, selected, classified and eventually stored for recycling purposes.

In order to facilitate the management of WEEE in the specific disposal units, producers of electronic and electric appliances must:

  • reduce the use of certain substances in future production of electric and electronic devices (eg, lead, mercury, cadmium and hexavalent chromium);
  • design and produce devices that can be easily dismantled and that facilitate reuse and recycling of their components;
  • provide sufficient information in relation to devices' components, allowing for the identification of recyclable materials and dangerous substances;
  • include a symbol in equipment, packaging, user instructions and warranties that may represent the prohibition to dispose of WEEE as domestic waste, including a brief explanation of the meaning of WEEE; and
  • inform end users about the potential effects that any dangerous substances contained within such devices may have on the environment or human health.

The enforcement authority will be empowered to:

  • ensure compliance with the law by individuals and entities;
  • perform educational activities aimed at end users of electric and electronic devices to promote recycling and waste reduction;
  • create a mandatory registry for manufacturers and distributors of electric and electronic devices;
  • perform inspections at manufacturers and distributors;
  • apply a penalty code;
  • create the Control and Follow-up Council; and
  • encourage the minimisation of the final disposal of WEEE as urban solid waste.

Manufacturers and distributors of electric and electronic devices will finance the WEEE management system through a special tax, which is yet to be created. Under the law, manufacturers and distributors are encouraged to design systems aimed at creating value from waste, and to recycle WEEE and its components.

The law provides for a one-year term in which manufacturers and distributors can adjust their current methodologies to the provisions. After this period, regulatory breaches will be penalised with:

  • warnings;
  • fines ranging from 10 to 500 times the minimum salary of the basic initial category of the provincial public administration (currently about $1,800 to $80,000);
  • provisional suspension of activities, from 30 days up to one year; or
  • closure of facilities and permanent suspension of activities.

Although the Executive Branch had partially vetoed some of the law's provisions (eg, on the special tax created by the law and the creation of the Control and Follow-up Council), on December 15 2011 the law became binding (excluding vetoed articles) after its publication in the Official Gazette.

Complementary regulations to the law's provisions should be enacted within 90 business days of publication. It is expected that similar regulations will be enacted at a national level in the coming year.

For further information on this topic please contact Francisco A Macías or Federico S Deyá at Marval O'Farrell & Mairal by telephone (+54 11 4310 0100), fax (+54 11 4310 0200) or email ([email protected] or [email protected]). The Marval O'Farrell & Mairal website can be accessed at


(1) Resolution 262/08, Environmental Protection Agency of the City of Buenos Aires.

(2) Resolutions 389/2010 and 101/2011, Environmental Agency of the Province of Buenos Aires.