On December 19th, the Legislative Assembly approved the Law on Integral Management of Waste and Promotion of Recycling, after the analysis carried out by the Committee on Environment and Climate Change. The decree has been sent to the President of the Republic for sanction.

This law aims to promote the use of waste and ensure a final sanitary and environmentally safe disposition in order to promote the circular economy model. This objective would be achieved by reducing waste generation and promoting repair, reuse and recycling.

Obligations and authority are granted by this law to the following institutions, as follows:

  • Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources: Prepare, execute and approve the National Plan for Integral Waste Management; issue and promote regulations, technical standards and other regulations related to waste management; issue, rule, approve or reject the authorizations and permits necessary for waste management, among others.
  • Municipalities: Include in their ordinances the obligation of people to deliver waste separately to collectors; design and apply its Integrated Waste Management Manual, among others.
  • Ministry of Education: Include in the national education curriculum the topic of integral waste management and promotion of recycling from nursery education to higher education; and develop training programs related to the topic for teachers.
  • Ministry of Health: Perform sanitary inspections at the facilities of sanitary landfills, composters, etc.; notify MARN and the corresponding mayor's office of irregularities resulting from inspections; declare as a health risk zone any territorial portion that presents a zoonotic risk or a serious threat; among others.

In the same way, the Law establishes obligations to the waste managers (i.e. who carry out their own or third-party waste management operations), to the waste generators, that is, to those who produce all types of waste derived from their activities, and consumers, with which it is sought, mainly, to motivate the adoption of measures to reduce the generation of waste.

These obligations are:

  • For waste generators: Implement measures to reduce waste generation; classify and separate waste and deliver it to an authorized waste manager; implement the use of cleaner alternatives; etc.
  • For waste managers: Have authorization from MARN to carry out waste management activities; have its Waste Management Manual approved; submit reports to MARN of its activities, etc.
  • For consumers: Carry out the primary separation from the source of the waste and deliver it to the municipal collector or to the authorized manager, in the manner established by each municipality.

The Law distinguishes between municipal waste, special handling waste and hazardous waste, this in order to determine the treatment that will be given to each type of waste; however, in relation to hazardous waste, it is established that the Special Regulation on Hazardous Substances, Residues and Waste will apply to them. Additionally, it contemplates minor, serious and very serious infractions and the respective sanctions that can be up to forty minimum wages.

To this date the Law has not been sanctioned by the President. If sanctioned, it will be published in the Official Journal and will be effective eight days after its publication.