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 October 2017 issue covers developments from August 16 to September 15.
Bill Requiring Safety Advisors for Dangerous Goods/Waste Operations Proposed
A bill proposed in the Chamber of Deputies would require any company engaging in activities that involve the use and/or handling of dangerous goods or wastes—including packaging, loading, and unloading operations linked with transport—to designate a safety advisor to prevent risks to the people, property, and environment associated with such activities. Safety Advisors would be required to complete a training course to register in the National Registry of Safety Advisors and obtain a Registration Certificate.
EPR Bill for Used Tires Proposed
A bill proposed in the Senate would establish minimum environmental protection measures for the management of used tires through the application of extended producer responsibility (EPR) principles. Under the proposal, producers would be required to form associations, pay contributions to associations, develop and implement integrated management systems for used tires, and incorporate design elements into the tire production process that facilitate their recovery.
New Draft Hazardous Waste Law in the Works
The Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development is in the process of developing a draft hazardous waste law that would replace current hazardous waste law No. 24051. To this effect, the Ministry recently presented guidelines for the draft law before the Federal Environment Council (COFEMA) for discussion.
Bill Setting Mandatory Recycled Content Levels for Plastic Packaging Proposed
A bill proposed in the Chamber of Deputies would amend the National Solid Waste Policy (Law No. 12.305/2010) to establish minimum recycled content requirements for plastic packaging. Specifically, starting with the next calendar year after the bill's enactment, it would require manufacturers of plastic packaging to use at least 12.5% resin of recycled origin. The minimum would then increase by increments of 12.5% every other year for ten years until reaching 75%. The bill would provide for a tradable credit system whereby manufacturers who exceed the applicable minimum resin content would be able to sell credit for their surpluses to other manufacturers.
Federal Supreme Court Upholds São Paulo Asbestos Ban and Rules Federal Asbestos Law Unconstitutional
The Federal Supreme Court (STF) upheld São Paulo State Law No. 12.687/2007, which prohibits the use of products, materials, or artifacts containing any type of asbestos, dismissing a constitutional challenge filed by the National Confederation of Industry Workers. In a separate decision, the STF declared that Article No. 2 of the federal asbestos law (No. 9.055/1995), which permits the extraction, industrialization, commercialization, distribution, and use of chrysotile asbestos, violates the Brazilian Constitution’s guarantee to government protection of human health and the environment. As a result of these rulings, Brazilian states have full legislative competence on the matter until new federal legislation is developed.
Revised Bill Would Ban Mercury in Products, with Limited Exemptions for Some Electronic Components
The Environment and Sustainable Development Committee in the Chamber of Deputies has approved a substitute to Bill No. 4.890/2016 that would implement the country’s commitments under the Minamata Convention on Mercury. While the original text of Bill No. 4.890/2016 would ban the use of mercury only in dental products, thermometers, and other products in health facilities, the new approved substitute proposal would prohibit the manufacture, import, and export of “mercury-added products,” defined by the Convention as a product or product component that contains mercury or a mercury compound that is intentionally added. The substitute bill would, however, include exemptions for certain products and circumstances, including where there are no viable mercury-free alternatives for spare parts, switches and relays, cold cathode and external electrode fluorescent lamps for electronic panels, and measuring devices. The substitute bill also establishes provisions for the gradual elimination of mercury and its compounds in the production of polyurethane; manometers of vinyl chloride and sodium or potassium methylate or ethylate; and dental amalgam.
CETESB Develops New Chemicals Manual
São Paulo's environmental agency (CETESB) has developed a new online chemicals manual containing ninety-six chemical emergency response datasheets to assist emergency response teams. Each datasheet covers six fields:
- Product identification.
- Safety measures.
- Fire hazards.
- Physical, chemical, and environmental properties.
- Toxicological information.
Proposed Bill Prohibits Delivery of All Plastic Bags to Final Consumers
A bill proposed in the Senate would prohibit the delivery of plastic bags, whether biodegradable or not, by supermarkets, warehouses, kiosks, or any other type of commercial or retail establishment that typically provides such products to final consumers for the transportation of sold merchandise. Violators of the bill’s provisions would be subject to fines of one monthly tax unit (UTM) per bag delivered. The proposal is currently before the Environment and National Goods Committee.
Bill Ratifying Minamata Convention Progresses
After passing a first-round debate held before the Second Commission in the Senate, a bill that would ratify the Minamata Convention on Mercury has been approved in a second-round debate held before the entire Senate. It now passes to the Chamber of Deputies for two more debates. While the Convention’s ratification remains pending, Colombia has already put various instruments in place to regulate mercury within the country, such as the National Mercury Plan, the Mercury Law (No. 1658/2013), and Decree No. 2133/2016, which establishes control measures for the import and sale of mercury and products that contain it, among others.
EPR Bill Covering Various Container Types Proposed
A bill proposed in the Chamber of Deputies would subject glass, metal/aluminum, paper, and cardboard containers (recoverable products) to extended producer responsibility (EPR) principles. “Producers of recoverable products” or “producers” would be defined as any person or entity that introduces a consumer good contained within one of the recoverable products to the domestic market. Of their key responsibilities, producers would be required to:
- Register in a designated registry established by the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development.
- Organize and finance the collection and treatment of waste from recoverable products throughout the country through individual or collective management systems.
- Meet collection and recovery targets and other associated obligations established by the Ministry.
Draft National Air Quality Standard Proposed
The Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development published a draft resolution that would set maximum permissible limits for certain atmospheric contaminants and establish framework criteria for managing of air emissions in the country. If adopted as proposed, the draft resolution would go into effect January 1, 2018.
Occupational Health and Safety Guide for Management of Dielectric Oils Published
Through the Project for the Integrated and Environmentally Sound Management of Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) in Ecuador, the Ministry of Environment has developed occupational health and safety guidelines for workers who handle dielectric oils—with and without PCBs—through import, transport, storage, use, treatment, and disposal. The Technical Guide for the Environmentally Sound Management of PCBs was published in 2015 and the 2018-2025 PCB Management Plan is expected to be published this year.
Liquefied Petroleum Gas Pipeline Distribution Standard Approved
The National Agency for Industrial Safety and Environmental Protection in the Hydrocarbons Sector (ASEA) has approved a technical standard, NOM-003-ASEA-2016, that establishes environmental and safety specifications for design, construction, pre-operation, operation, maintenance, closure, and dismantling of natural and liquefied petroleum gas pipeline distribution systems. The standard repeals and replaces NOM-003-SECRE-2011, as well as NOM-129-SEMARNAT-2006, and goes into effect 170 days after its official publication.
Guidelines for Protection of National Waters During Exploration/Extraction of Non-Conventional Reserves Approved
The Secretariat of Environment and Natural Resources has published guidelines for the protection and conservation of national waters during exploration and extraction of non-conventional reserves, such as heavy and extra heavy oils, oil in shales, compact rocks, low permeability sands, and tar sands, as well as methane hydrates and gas in shales, compact rocks, low permeability sands, and coal veins, among others. Regulated entities have 180 days from the guidelines’ publication date to comply with its provisions.
Bill Requiring Collection Points for Certain Consumer Products in Large Municipalities Proposed
A bill proposed in the Chamber of Deputies would amend the General Law for the Prevention and Integrated Management of Wastes to require municipalities with populations greater than one hundred thousand inhabitants to set up containers in public spaces for the collection of batteries, clothes, cans, technological waste, and containers made with polyethylene terephthalate (PET). The proposal is intended to help facilitate waste management in areas where these items are generated in large quantities.
Bill Requiring Collection Points for Aluminum Containers Proposed
A bill proposed in the Senate would modify the General Law for the Prevention and Integrated Management of Wastes to call for federal entities and municipalities to develop Official Mexican Standards (NOMs) within one year of the bill’s enactment requiring final distributors of aluminum containers to set up collection points for post-consumer waste of the product for the purpose of recycling.
Draft Classification Standard for Special Management Waste in the Hydrocarbons Sector Proposed
The Federal Commission on Regulatory Improvement (COFEMER) has released a draft standard for the Hydrocarbons Sector that would establish classification criteria for special management waste, determine which wastes are subject to Management Plan requirements, and specify the elements and procedures for developing Management Plans for hazardous and special management wastes. The draft standard would be applicable to large generators of hazardous and special management wastes, defined as those people or entities that generate ten tons or more of waste per year while carrying out Hydrocarbon Sector activities.
Draft Voluntary Water Footprinting Standard Open for Public Comment
The Secretariat of Economy has published a draft voluntary standard that would establish principles, requirements, and guidelines for evaluating the water footprint of products, processes, and organizations based on a life-cycle analysis. While not mandatory, voluntary standards are often required in procurement contracts and can become industry standards over time, creating market conformity pressures. The draft standard is open for a 60-day public comment period. Interested parties may submit comments to Instituto Mexicano de Normalización y Certificación, A.C.
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.