Latin American Environmental Regulatory Tracker
Our monthly Latin American Environmental Regulatory Tracker lists pending and recently enacted environmental laws and regulations in several Latin American countries. The May 2016 issue covers developments from March 16 to April 15.
Latin American and Caribbean Ministers of Environment adopted the Declaration of Cartagena, in which they pledged to accelerate collective action on environmental priorities, including mitigation against and adaptation to climate change, air quality improvement, and chemicals safety.
A bill (No. 1310-D-2016) proposed in the Chamber of Deputies would prohibit the use of all aerial pesticides and biocides to control insects, mites, fungi, and wild plants. Violators would be subject to penalties under Article 200 of the Penal Code (“Crimes Against Public Health”), which include fines and imprisonment.
Newly enacted Law No. 13.263/2016 (March 23, 2016) will raise the required biodiesel blend in diesel oil sold to consumers to 8% for one year after the law’s entry into force, 9% after two years, and 10% after three years. Previously, the required biodiesel blend was 7%. The Law authorizes the National Energy Policy Council (CNPE) to increase mandatory blending ratios.
A bill (No. 4908/2016) proposed in the Chamber of Deputies would require foods that contain or that are produced or derived from genetically modified organisms (GMOs) to display a label outlining the possible risks associated with consumption. These labels would be mandatory regardless of the final GMO concentration in the product.
A Bill (No. 4890/2016) proposed in the Chamber of Deputies would prohibit the use of mercury in dental materials and thermometers, and the use, handling and storage of mercury in healthcare facilities. The Bill also calls for the disposal of mercury-containing products currently in use and requires compliance with safety protocols for workers exposed to mercury.
A bill (No. 4758/2016) proposed in the Chamber of Deputies would prohibit the use of ecolabels on products without proper certification. The proposal is intended to combat the practice of "greenwashing," or the misleading or false representation of environmental benefits in product marketing. The Bill outlines scenarios defined as “greenwashing” and establishes ecolabeling specifications.
The Senate has approved a bill (No. 430/2011) that would require electric utility companies to direct 20% of their financial resources to the National Program for Energy Conservation (Procel), which promotes the efficient use of energy. The Bill now passes to the President for approval.
The Chamber of Deputies approved a bill (No. 1805/2015) that would govern acceptable locations for pesticide distributor/reseller establishments, allowing for installations in rural, mixed urban, commercial, or industrial zones according to municipal land division laws. The Bill now passes to the Senate for review.
The Ministry of the Environment (MMA) has launched the National Strategy for Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, Conserving Forest Carbon Stocks, Sustainably Managing Forests, and Increasing Forest Carbon Stocks (ENREDD+). The primary objective of the Strategy is to help mitigate climate change by combating illegal logging.
The Brazilian National Standards Organization (ABNT), in coordination with the Carbon Trust, a London-based organization that helps businesses and governments implement sustainability strategies, has launched a product footprinting and certification scheme in Brazil that will enable participating entities to demonstrate conformity with ABNT standards for measuring product life cycle carbon emissions or water usage through the use of an approved ecolabel. The scheme, currently implemented in nine countries, including Mexico, is intended to encourage sustainable use of natural resources and promote public awareness on the environmental impact of products.
A bill (No. 244/2016) proposed in the São Paulo State Legislative Assembly would ban the use of aerial pesticides and any supplies, materials, or equipment associated with aerial spraying of pesticides. Violators could be subject to fines, as well as seizure and destruction of property.
A bill (No. 192/2016) proposed in the São Paulo State Legislative Assembly would establish guidelines and general criteria for preparation, implementation, and monitoring of the State Water Resources Plan (PERH). PERH would outline rules for management, restoration, and protection of water resources and promote efficient use of water.
São Paulo’s environmental agency (CETESB) and the Brazilian Packaging Association (ABRE) have published a report entitled, "Packaging and Sustainability: Challenges and Guidelines in the Context of the Circular Economy." The report encourages the transition from "linear" production processes to "closed loop" recycling practices through a design-for-environment approach to packaging. Its overall recommendations to industry include:
- Designing packaging that meets product needs while minimizing environmental impact.
- Encouraging development of technologies that maximize packaging function and recovery of materials and energy.
Boletín 9094-12, a comprehensive waste management and extended producer responsibility bill (EPR Bill) has been approved by the Chilean Constitutional Court and is now pending Presidential approval. Initially proposed in September 2013, the EPR Bill has reached the final stages of the regulatory approval process and is expected to be passed shortly. If enacted, the proposal would create a take-back framework for end-of-life "priority products," including lubricating oils, tires, waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE), cells and batteries, and containers and packaging.
The Ministry of Health has published Decree No. 43/2016, approving the Regulation for the Storage of Hazardous Substances, which establishes safety provisions for hazardous substance storage facilities. The Regulation applies to hazardous substances and products that pose a risk to the health, safety, or wellbeing of humans or animals, based on the hazardous substance classifications outlined in Chilean Standard No. 382:2013.
The Superintendency of Electricity and Fuels (SEC) has published a draft safety regulation for analysis and testing of TV decoders (PE No. 8/2). The draft regulation references international standard IEC 60065:2014 Audio, Video and Similar Electronic Apparatus - Safety Requirements. It is open for public comment until June 16, 2016.
Senator Jorge Prieto Riveros of the Green Alliance Party has proposed a bill that has unanimous support from all 42 congressmen that would amend the federal Constitution to establish the fundamental right to water. The first debate on the proposal is expected to be held in the upcoming weeks in the First Committee of the Senate.
A bill (No. 210/2016) proposed in the Chamber of Deputies would establish guidelines for formulating the National Policy on Sustainable Construction, which would include economic benefits and financial incentives for entities that incorporate sustainable construction methods in building design. Sustainable construction methods would include, among others:
- The efficient use of energy, water, and materials.
- The incorporation of eco-technologies.
- The environmentally appropriate management of waste.
The Ministries of Environment and Sustainable Development (MADS) and Commerce, Industry, and Tourism (MINCIT) have published a long-anticipated draft decree that would partially implement the Law for the Integral Management of Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) (No. 1672/2013). The proposal would apply to all entities that produce, sell, or use EEE, as well as those entities involved in activities that generate WEEE, significantly expanding the scope of its existing electronics take-back regulations which are limited to batteries, printers, and computers.
The Ministry of Mines and Energy (MINMINAS) has published a second round of proposed modifications to the Technical Regulation for Labeling Electrical and Fuel Gas Equipment (RETIQ), which establishes technical standards for energy efficiency labeling, testing, and certifying a range of household electronic goods including electromagnetic and electronic lighting ballasts. While the second round draft amendments retain many of the changes initially proposed in January 2016, they propose additional modifications that include:
- Exclusions for some lamp ballasts.
- Labeling placement clarifications.
- Additional information requirements for certificates of conformity.
- Changes to the System 5 certification method for quality management systems.
A plastic bag resolution issued by the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development (Minambiente) has gone into effect to regulate the size, quality, and distribution of plastic bags in commercial establishments, supermarkets, and pharmacies. This announcement was made during the launch of the “Reembólsale al Planeta” campaign, which seeks to promote responsible consumption of plastic bags through reduction, reuse, and recycling.
The Ministry of Environment and Energy has published technical standard RTCR No. 482-2015, establishing energy efficiency limits, testing, and labeling requirements for the refrigerators, refrigerator-freezers, and freezers (containing hermetically sealed compressor-motors) that have been manufactured, imported, and sold in Costa Rica. It repeals and replaces Executive Decree No. 29751-MINAE-H-MEIC, RTCR 374-98-MINAE. The Regulation becomes effective as of September 28, 2016.
The National Water Law (Ley de Aguas Nacionales) has been modified to introduce and modify several definitions, including “use in aquaculture,” and to raise aquaculture from 8th to 5th most important on a list of the top 13 water priorities in Mexico.
A bill proposed in the Senate would modify the General Waste Law (Ley General de Prevencion y Gestion Integral de Residuos) to clarify powers under the Mexican government relating to regulation of materials used to make products, containers, and packaging. The Bill specifies that the government would be responsible for developing environmental and technological standards for polyethylene and other synthetic polymers, as well as standards that prohibit the manufacture and expanded use of polyethylene.
A bill proposed in the Mexican Chamber of Deputies would modify the General Waste Law to classify technological waste from the information technology industry and electronics manufacturers as hazardous waste rather than special management waste. Under this new classification category, technological waste would be subject to hazardous waste management plan requirements, which are currently pending and have not been enacted.
The Ministry of the Economy has released this year's National Program for Standardization, a document identifying all official and non-binding standards currently under development by the Mexican government. The National Program is published annually in Mexico's Official Gazette and is used to inform the public of new and ongoing regulatory initiatives. [Third Section] [Fourth Section] [Fifth Section] [Sixth Section]
The Federal Attorney for Environmental Protection (PROFEPA) has issued a Recommendation to all Mexican states and Mexico City, calling for dissemination and implementation of the "National Program for the Integral Management of Televisions Discarded Due to the Transition to Digital Terrestrial Televisions (DTTs).” Specifically, the Recommendation instructs governing bodies within each of these jurisdictions to:
- Comply with environmental laws and regulations as the country transitions from analog TVs to DTTs.
- Conduct public awareness campaigns on proper collection and disposal of analog TVs.
- Implement monitoring and control mechanisms to ensure environmentally adequate management of this waste stream.
The Secretariat of Economy has published two voluntary technical standards that harmonize with international standards: ISO 14001:2015 Environmental management systems-Requirements with guidance for use, Ed. 3, and ISO 9000:2015 Quality management systems-Fundamentals and vocabulary. Voluntary standards are often mandatory in procurement contracts and can become industry standards over time, creating market conformity pressures.
The Ministry of Environment (MINAM) has published a resolution (No. 090-2016-MINAM) approving the "Guidelines for the Integrated Management of Climate Change" and the “GestiónClima Initiative,” which facilitate the design, development, and implementation of measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, promote sustainable development, and support the country’s commitments under international climate change agreements. The Guidelines are broken up into five different sections:
- Integrated Public Policies.
- Multi-Sectoral and Multi-Level Coordination.
- Decisions with International Processes.
- Monitoring and Reporting.
The Ministry of Production (PRODUCE) has approved a range of technical standards covering electrical cables, milk and dairy products, fire safety, food products, and fertilizers, among others. Notably, the Resolution approves NTP 370.103:2016, which covers energy efficiency specifications for high-pressure sodium lamps ballasts. The standard replaces NTP 370.103:2010.
As part of our International Environmental Law practice group, Beveridge & Diamond's Latin America practice group helps multinational clients navigate dynamic and unprecedented change in Latin American environmental law. We counsel clients from various industrial sectors on a wide range of issues arising under the domestic environmental regulations of most Latin American countries with an emphasis in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Mexico, and Peru. For more information, please contact the authors.