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 August 2017 issue covers developments from June 16 to July 15.
"Extended and Shared Responsibility" Bill Reintroduced
A bill proposed in the Chamber of Deputies would reintroduce a previous proposal that would modify the Law for the Integrated Management of Household Wastes (No. 25916/2004) by introducing the principle of "extended and shared responsibility." Under the broad Bill, the principle would be defined as the waste management obligations carried out over the life-cycle of a product (from production to end-of-life) by all members involved in the production chain. Following Argentine parliamentary rules, bills expire every two years and must be reintroduced in the new congressional session.
Buenos Aires Proposes Ban on Non-Biodegradable Bags
A bill proposed in the Buenos Aires Legislature would prohibit the delivery of non-biodegradable, non-compostable bags to consumers for the transport of sold merchandise. While the proposal lists sixty-four specific types of establishments where this ban would take effect, it also includes a “catch-all” listing for establishments of “any other item.” Listed establishments include those that sell electrical and electronic products, parts, components, and accessories; audio and video equipment; lighting equipment; office machinery and equipment; household appliances; and chemical products.
Minamata Convention on Mercury Ratified
On July 4, 2017, the Senate approved the bill ratifying the Minamata Convention on Mercury, a global treaty that aims to protect human health and the environment from the adverse effects of mercury. Already passed by the Chamber of Deputies, the proposal now goes to the President for promulgation.
House Committee Approves Reverse Logistics Bill for Pharmaceuticals Sector
The House Committee on Economic Development, Industry, Trade, and Services has approved a proposal that would modify the National Solid Waste Policy (Law No. 12.305/2010) to require manufacturers, importers, distributors and retailers within the pharmaceuticals industry to adopt reverse logistics systems for expired/discarded medicines and their packaging. The bill now passes to the Committees on Social Security and Family; Environment and Sustainable Development; and Constitution, Justice, and Citizenship for review.
Mandatory Environmental Insurance Bill Approved by Senate Committee
The Senate Committee for Economic Affairs approved a bill that would call for the environmental licensing body to require, in cases where Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) and Environmental Impact Reports (RIMA) are prepared, proof of insurance for environmental damages as a condition for granting environmental licenses for operations or activities that cause or could cause environmental degradation. The minimum amount of compulsory environmental insurance would be fixed at the initial stage of the licensing by the environmental licensing body, according to criteria established in implementing regulations. The proposal now passes to the Environment Committee for review.
House Committee Approves Use of 50% Recycled Paper in Federal Offices
The Labor, Administration, and Public Service Committee in the Chamber of Deputies approved a bill that would require federal public agencies to use at least 50% recycled paper. The author of the proposal notes that although the National Policy on Solid Waste (Law No. 12.305/10) already obliges the federal government to prioritize recycled products in its contracting, these provisions are largely ineffective. The bill now passes to the Committees for Environment and Sustainable Development; and Constitution, Justice, and Citizenship for review.
House Committee Approves Stimulus for Renewable Energy in Agricultural Irrigation
The Agriculture, Livestock, Food Supply, and Rural Development Committee in the Chamber of Deputies approved a bill that would establish incentives for agricultural producers to adopt renewable energies, such as solar, wind, biomass, biogas and small hydroelectric plants, in irrigation systems. Such incentives would include access to agricultural insurance and tax incentives. The proposal would also prioritize the development of research to promote the use of renewable energies in irrigated agriculture. The bill, originating in the Senate, now goes to the Committees for Environment and Sustainable Development; and Constitution, Justice, and Citizenship for review.
Bill Requiring Disclosure of Native Flora Origins on Product Advertising Proposed
A bill proposed in the Chamber of Deputies would modify the Law for the Protection of Native Vegetation (No. 12.651/2012) to require industrialized products containing a minimum percentage, defined in implementing regulations, of raw material extracted from Brazilian flora to display their presence and natural origin on their respective packaging, labels, and advertising materials. Failure to comply with these rules would be considered a health infraction and would be sanctioned accordingly.
House Bill Would Require Discounts on New Electronics in Exchange for Returns of Similar Used Products
A bill proposed in the Chamber of Deputies would modify the National Solid Waste Policy Law (No. 12.305/2010) to require manufacturers, retailers, and suppliers of certain products, including batteries, lamps, and electronics, to provide discounts on consumer purchases of new products in exchange for returns of similar used products. While not included in its text, the proposal’s justification indicates that its drafters assume that “recyclers” would compensate retailers and suppliers for the discounts by purchasing the used products. The bill is intended to stimulate the return and adequate end-of-life management of these items as envisioned in the National Solid Waste Policy Law.
2026 Energy Expansion Plan Open for Public Comment
The Ministry of Mines and Energy (MME), in coordination with the Energy Research Company (EPE), has posted the 2026 Energy Expansion Plan (PDE) for public comment until August 6, 2017. The objective of the PDE is to provide an indicative view of the evolution of energy supply and demand over the next ten years.
Energy Consumption Label for Household Gas Water Heaters Approved
On July 4, 2017, the Ministry of Energy published Resolution No. 54 in the Official Gazette, approving energy consumption labeling technical specifications for household instantaneous gas water heaters. Energy consumption labels must be affixed to the front or side of the product except in cases where such placement is impracticable due to the model’s configuration. In these circumstances, the label may be applied elsewhere at the discretion of the manufacturer so that it is visible to the consumer. The Resolution’s product scope and field of application would be equivalent to the Superintendence of Electricity and Fuels’ Protocol PC No. 6/1-2.
Government Launches National Climate Change Action Plan
The Government of Chile has launched the National Action Plan for Climate Change 2017-2022 (PANCC-II), which establishes a roadmap for the adaptation, mitigation, implementation, and management of climate change at the regional and community levels. The Action Plan involves measures to, among other activities::
- Meet the country’s commitments under the Paris Agreement, in which Chile pledges to reduce its emissions by 30% by 2030.
- Promote renewable energies and technologies.
- Reforest 100,000 hectares, primarily with native trees.
- Develop atmospheric decontamination plans. Implement green taxes on emissions from industries and cars.
The Action Plan was developed through the participation of twenty public institutions and public consultation that garnered more than 1,200 comments.
Paris Agreement Ratification Published
On July 14, 2017, Law No. 1844 was published in the Official Gazette, ratifying the Paris Agreement on climate change. Under the Agreement, Colombia commits to reduce its GHG emissions by 20% by 2030 or 30% with international support, both based on the projected business-as-usual scenario.
Used Tire Selective Collection and Environmental Management Systems Rules Approved
On July 7, 2017, Resolution No. 1326 was published in the Official Gazette, requiring producers of tires sold in Colombia to develop, present, implement, and maintain Used Tire Selective Collection and Environmental Management Systems that must comply with progressive annual collection and environmental management targets. The new rule is applicable to producers of certain quantities of tires per year, as well as importers, manufacturers, and assemblers of certain quantities of vehicles per year. Upon its official publication, Resolution No. 1326 repeals Resolution No. 1457/2010.
Paris Agreement Ratified
With 134 affirmative votes, the National Assembly unanimously approved the Paris Agreement on climate change. Under the Agreement, Ecuador commits to an unconditional 20.4 - 25% reduction in energy sector emissions by 2025, compared to business-as-usual levels, or a conditional 37.5% to 45.8%, dependent on international support.
2016-2035 National Energy Efficiency Plan Approved
On July 10, 2017, the Ministry of Electricity and Renewable Energy published the approval of its 2016-2035 National Energy Efficiency Plan (PLANEE) (Agreement No. 3) in the Official Gazette, intended to increase the efficient use of energy resources throughout the country through the implementation of various programs and projects, such as the voluntary Maximum Energy Efficiency Distinction (DMEE) for electrical appliances, approved in February 2017. Overall, PLANEE aims to avoid the consumption of 543 MBOE over the roughly 20-year time period, equivalent to USD 84.131 million in savings.
New ASEA Management System Guidelines Published
On June 16, 2017, the National Agency of Industrial Safety and Protection of the Environment for the Hydrocarbons Sector (ASEA) published new guidelines for the conformation, implementation, and authorization of Management Systems for Industrial and Operational Safety and Environmental Protection, applicable to those entities engaging in the sale and distribution of natural gas, liquefied petroleum gas, and petroleum products. The Guidelines will go into effect 120 days following their publication date.
Energy Efficiency and User Safety Standard for Room Air Conditioners Approved
Technical Standard NOM-021-ENER/SCFI-2017, published in the Official Gazette on July 7, 2017, sets energy efficiency and user safety specifications and test methods for room air conditioners. The standard also establishes energy efficiency labeling and marking requirements. NOM-021 is applicable to new domestic and foreign room air conditioners sold in Mexico, with or without heating capabilities, and cooling capacities of up to 10 600 Wt. The new rule replaces NOM-021-ENER /SCFI-2008 and enters into force 180 days after its official publication date.
Draft Gasoline Vapor Recovery System Standard Proposed
The National Agency of Industrial Safety and Protection of the Environment for the Hydrocarbons Sector (ASEA) has proposed a draft standard to establish test methods to determine the efficiency, maintenance, and parameters for the operation of Gasoline Vapor Recovery Systems, used for the control of emissions from Mexican service stations that sell gasoline to the public.
Amendments to Workplace Health & Safety Standard for Handling Hazardous Chemicals Proposed
The Secretariat of Labor and Social Welfare (STPS) has proposed a draft standard that would amend NOM-005-STPS-1998 to establish health and safety conditions and procedures for the handling of hazardous chemicals or their mixtures in the workplace. Among its key changes, the Draft Standard would now be based on the fourth revised edition (2011) of the Globally Harmonized System for the Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS) and would also reference NOM-018-STPS-2015, which is based on the fifth revised edition (2013) of GHS. The Draft Standard would introduce new requirements for risk analyses, emergency response plans, training, verification units, and conformity assessment procedures, and would add reference guides on the compatibility of hazardous chemicals, control banding, and identification of the risk factors inherent to hazardous chemicals in the workplace.
Plastic Regulations Proposed
Three bills that would modify the Law for the Prevention and Integrated Management of Wastes to regulate the use of plastic have been proposed in the National Congress.
- The first bill, proposed in the Chamber of Deputies, would call for federal authorities to regulate and establish the basis for prohibiting the delivery of plastic bags in any commercial activity and promoting the delivery of bags made from biodegradable or other environmentally-friendly materials in their place.
- The second bill, proposed in the Senate, would call for federal authorities to establish the basis for substituting plastic and expanded polystyrene with biodegradable materials. The proposal aims to achieve the use of 25% biodegradable materials in the production of products, containers, and packaging by 2019, 50% by 2022, and 100% by 2025.
- The third bill, proposed in the Chamber of Deputies, would call for federal authorities to promote, with the participation of commercial establishments, the implementation of programs that discourage the use of disposable plastic bags for merchandise and/or promotional purposes through the use of economic incentives.
Noise Classification Bill Proposed
A bill proposed in the Chamber of Deputies would modify the Law for Ecological Equilibrium and Environmental Protection to classify noise from fixed sources into residential or housing and industrial or commercial zones. It would stipulate that in the case of conflict caused by noise to a residential zone from a fixed source in a commercial or industrial zone, the maximum allowable noise limit of the residential zone would prevail. The proposal would also mandate that public works carried out in residential zones be conducted during the daytime only. Lastly, the bill would grant greater authority to the Ministries of Environment and Health to establish noise emission health protection measures.
Draft Agreement for the Submission of Preventative Reports by Service Stations Pre-Published
The Federal Commission on Regulatory Improvement (COFEMER) has released a draft Agreement that would require service stations for the storage and sale of diesel and gasoline, located in urban, suburban or industrial areas, on highways or federal or state roads, to submit a Preventative Report and not an Environmental Impact Assessment to the National Agency for Industrial Safety and Environmental Protection for the Hydrocarbons Sector (ASEA) for evaluation and determination of environmental impact. The Preventive Report would need to comply with all the requirements established in the General Law for Ecological Equilibrium and Environmental Protection, its Regulation on Environmental Impact Assessments, and the “Guide for the Presentation of the Preventive Report.” The Agreement would also specify that ten or more service stations under the same corporate name with individual permits issued by the Energy Regulatory Commission could submit a scheduled program for the gradual presentation of Preventative Reports to ASEA.
OECD International Energy Agency Accepts Mexico as New Member
On June 21, 2017, the International Energy Agency (IEA) of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) unanimously approved the accession of Mexico as its 13th member country. The approval came after reports, prepared with the results of the Energy Policy Assessment and Emergency Response Assessment, recommended to accept Mexico as a full member, having demonstrated that its energy policy is aligned with the goals of the IEA and follows international best practices of market orientation and sustainability.
Access to Drinking Water Declared a Constitutional Right
On June 22, 2017, Law No. 30588 was published in the Official Gazette, modifying the Federal Constitution to recognize the progressive and universal access to drinking water as a constitutional right. Similarly, two bills proposed in the unicameral congress would modify the Federal Constitution to recognize adequate food as a fundamental right.
Modifications to General Solid Waste Law Regulation Proposed
The Ministry of Environment (MINAM) has proposed modifications to the Regulation to the General Law for the Integrated Management of Solid Wastes (Ministerial Resolution No. 174-2017-MINAM). Most notably, the Draft Regulation varies from the version currently in force in that it introduces additional obligations for generators of municipal, special municipal, and non-municipal solid wastes; establishes recovery responsibilities for generators of used containers of hazardous substances or products; and sets the framework for the Special Regime for the Management of Solid Wastes from Prioritized Goods, which would integrate producer take-back requirements.
Tax on Beverages that Require Water in Their Production Proposed
A bill proposed in the unicameral congress would impose a tax on beverages that use water as an input in their production, such as bottled water (still and sparkling), beer, sports and energy drinks, tea, juice, and milk products reconstituted with water and powdered milk. The bill would be applicable to producers, or companies that are economically linked to them, that domestically sell or export covered products, as well as people or companies that import covered products.
Draft Soil Quality Standards Published
The Ministry of Environment (MINAM) has published draft Environmental Quality Standards for Soil, which would, most notably, modify existing standards by:
- Incorporating three new chemical parameters: total chromium, tricloroethylene (TCE) and tetrachlorethylene (PCE).
- Lowering the parameter value for lead in soil for commercial or industrial/extractive use.
- Eliminating aldrin, endrin, DDT and heptachlor pesticides in soil, given that their import has been prohibited since 1991 and they are no longer domestically produced.
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.