In December 2010 Brazil finally established its National Policy on Solid Waste through the enactment of Federal Law 12.305/10. The policy is substantially based on the 'polluter pays' principle and the principle of sustainable development, and introduces the reverse logistics system, an important mechanism for the management of solid waste.

Under this system, manufacturers, importers, distributors and retailers of pesticides, batteries, tyres, fluorescent lamps and electronic devices shall take these products back after consumption. 

Regardless of the environmental progress that will be achieved by Law 12.305/10, the creation of the reverse logistics system makes it difficult to distribute costs among all the legal persons liable for taking such products and materials back after consumption. The main reason for this is that under the new federal law, waste generators (which include all the agents mentioned above) shall bear the costs of implementing the reverse logistics system.

Therefore, Federal Decree 7.404/10, which regulates Law 12.305/10, provides tools for the implementation of reverse logistics - designed to solve the issues arising from the distribution of costs - known as sectoral agreements. These agreements have been provided considering the shared liability for the lifecycle of the product and the regulations issued by the government.

The sectoral agreements may involve the government and all importers, distributors and traders of products subject to the reverse logistics system, and shall be carried out in a public hearing. Moreover, such agreements shall be evaluated by the Ministry of Environment to ensure that they meet the applicable regulations and environmental goals set by the authorities.

In addition, Law 12.305/10 foresees joint efforts for the protection of the environment to be made not only by manufacturers, importers and retailers of products to which the new law may apply, but also by the government, considering the burden of the implementation and management of such system.

The implementation of the reverse logistics system in Brazil indicates how solid waste issues may be dealt with from now on. The mechanism represents new opportunities in the field of solid waste management. Accordingly, sustainable ideas are to be enforced and will guide Brazil's economic growth towards cooperation between industry, retailers and consumers.

For further information on this topic please contact Maria Alice Doria or Patricia Macedo Guimarães at Doria Jacobina Rosado e Gondinho by telephone (+55 21 3523 9090), fax (+55 21 3523 9080) or email ([email protected] or [email protected]).