Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) continues to be a hot topic amongst environmental authorities throughout Central and South America. Abbie Burford, Valpak’s International Account Manager, looks at the trail-blazing legislation in Chile that has paved the way for similar regulations to be adopted in neighbouring countries.
In March 2017, Chile brought in major change and firmly placed themselves on the map in terms of environmental compliance. Their landmark environmental legislation, Law N°20.920 was passed, and is now more commonly known as, the Recycling Law or the Extended Producer Responsibility Law (Ley REP).
Capturing six product types, labelled as “Priority Products” (productos prioritarios), the law set out the obligation for their producers and importers to contribute to the financing and collection of their products when they become waste. The products are car and portable batteries, electronic and electrical equipment (EEE), packaging, tires and used oils. They have been labelled as priority due to the lack of recycling channels available in Chile for their recycling when they reach the end of their usable life.
The law was set to be fully implemented 24 months after the date of approval, therefore coming into force in 2019 and establishing a certain level of shared responsibility. Actions for consumers, local authorities and waste management companies were also set out in the legislation. As the first step in the supply chain, producers and importers saw the biggest changes under the EPR principle of “who pollutes pays”.
Companies familiar with European regulations will notice a number of similarities in the responsibilities for example declaring data and paying fees for products and packaging placed on to the Chilean market.
Ultimately, responsibility lies with the producer or importer to organise and finance the proper collection and treatment of waste independently or by joining an authorised waste management scheme. The producer must also sign up to the Producer Register held and presented by the Ministry of Environment and declare data annually to the Ministry, as well as meeting recycling and reuse targets. To help companies, there is a 5-year transition period to implement the necessary changes.
The success of the Chilean EPR scheme has inspired other countries in the region to formulate their own legislation, including their next-door neighbour, Argentina.
Where Chile’s “priority products” are set out in a single law, Argentina is looking to implement two new pieces of legislation: Law no. 27279 – Minimum Requirements for the Management of Waste Packaging (Ley de Presupuestos Mínimos para la Gestión de Envases), covering household packaging and their own Extended Producer Responsibility Law (Ley de Presupuestos Mínimos para la Gestión de Residuos mediante REP), encompassing the following products:
- Electronic and electrical equipment (EEE)
- Batteries (portable and industrial)
- Used cooking oils
- Thermometers and other products containing mercury
Although the product types are incorporated in separate laws, the overall concept and goal is the same: to establish producer responsibility on the specified products during their entire life cycle, particularly as they become waste.
Both laws were due to be passed in 2020; however, this target is now in question due to the global Covid-19 pandemic. The overall picture of how EPR will look in Argentina is therefore not as clear as in Chile, but the Ministry of Environment have shared a general idea of what obligations the system will stipulate for producers, manufacturers and importers (including those distance selling).
These parties must prove to the Ministry of Environment that they are contributing financially and facilitating the proper disposal of their products when they become waste. This can be done through an individual or a collective system, and by working with waste management companies.
The exact format of the report, other than that it will be done online, remains unclear. However, it will certainly have to include the following points: how the waste will be collected, transported and processed in line with the regulations, how recycling targets set by the Ministry of Environment are being met as well as the names of the companies/contractors they will be working with to fulfil these duties.
The final aspect is a declaration of the quantity of material the producer places on the Argentine market per year. This information will be used to calculate the producer’s financial contribution for waste management, a method not dissimilar to many compliance scheme systems in Europe.
Argentina’s actions mark the first of many expected in Central and South America. Be sure to watch this space if your company is selling or looking to sell in these regions!
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