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 July 2016 issue covers developments from May 16 to June 15.
A bill (No. 3182-D-2016) proposed in the Chamber of Deputies would declare electricity as a fundamental social right and guarantee national access to this service. Particular emphasis would be placed on supporting socioeconomically disadvantaged households that have difficulty accessing electricity.
The National Institute of Metrology, Quality, and Technology (INMETRO) published Portaria 221/2016, extending compliance deadlines for Portaria 144/2015, which establishes testing, labeling, and registration requirements for integrated Light Emitting Diode (LED) lamps. The respective deadlines for producers, wholesalers, and retailers to sell only compliant products are extended by four months to allow companies to clear stocks of products already in the distribution pipeline.
The Urban Development Committee approved a bill (No. 3588/2015) that would amend the Environmental Crimes Law (No. 9.605/1998) to include noise pollution—the production of sounds, noises or vibrations emitted above thresholds permitted by current laws and regulations. Penalties would include fines and imprisonment of three months to one year. The Bill now moves to the Environment and Sustainable Development Committee for review.
In response to water shortages in Brazil, a bill (No. 5290/2016) proposed in the Chamber of Deputies would require food packaging and labels to include “water footprint” information—the total amount of water used in the production of food per kilogram of product offered for sale. The Bill is currently under review by the Consumer Defense Committee.
A bill (No. 5482/2016) proposed in the Chamber of Deputies would prohibit the use of food and beverage packaging and containers made from Styrofoam in all commercial establishments in Brazil. Packaging and containers could be made from waxed cardboard, molded plastic, or other materials that did not pose a risk to human health or the environment. They would be required to display a symbol indicating the use of recyclable material on the product itself or on an adhesive label.
São Paulo's environmental agency (CETESB) has published a formal decision (Directorate Decision No. 120/2016/C) regulating reverse logistics systems in the state. Specifically, the Regulation exempts certain types of take-back operations from environmental licensing waste transportation permit requirements, confirms the applicability of such requirements to other take-back operations, and exempts intact end-of-life electronics from hazardous waste classification. The Regulation will facilitate the implementation of Resolution 45, issued by São Paulo's Secretariat of the Environment (SMA) in June 2015, which establishes the framework for a take-back regime in the state.
A bill (No. 431/2016) proposed in the state Legislative Assembly would establish criteria for sustainable public procurement. Under the proposal, all government entities would be encouraged to select procurement contracts based on the supplier's use of sustainable practices and proof of environmental certification, rather than cost. If approved, supplier environmental certification would be optional for the first six months after the Bill's enactment and mandatory thereafter.
On June 10, 2016, Bill No. 5823/07was signed into Law, enabling Chilean landowners to protect their land in perpetuity through conservation easements—a voluntary legal agreement between a landowner and a land trust or unit of government that allows the landowner to dedicate their property to conservation without losing their ownership rights. The Law is intended to incentivize the development of private conservation initiatives to protect Chile’s natural heritage and fill gaps within current protected areas.
A draft resolution (No. 589) has been approved in the Chamber of Deputies, calling for the President to develop a bill or standard to regulate and measure concentrations of heavy metals in densely populated areas, taking into consideration academic, industrial, and commercial activities. Regulation of heavy metals, especially lead and mercury, has become a legislative focus in Latin America and restrictions should be anticipated in the future.
A draft resolution (No. 582) has been approved in the Chamber of Deputies, calling for the President to ratify the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization—a 2010 supplementary agreement to the 1992 Convention on Biological Diversity. If passed, Chile would join Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, Peru, and Uruguay as the countries in Latin America that have achieved ratification.
The Ministry of Environment (MMA) has launched a sustainable procurement policy aimed at reducing the environmental impact of its purchased products and encouraging suppliers to implement sustainable production methods and business activities. According to a government press release, the implementation of the policy will be gradual and increasingly demanding. Key short-term objectives include encouraging suppliers to:
- Reduce their energy consumption and utilize non-conventional renewable energy sources.
- Provide carbon footprinting information on their business operations.
- Properly manage their solid wastes, including the implementation of recycling practices.
A bill (No. 260/2016C) that would amend the Federal Constitution to declare access to water a fundamental human right was approved in a second House debate. Already passed by the Senate on May 17, 2016, the Bill now moves to a full House vote.
The Chamber of Deputies has proposed significant modifications to a lead restrictions bill (No. 181/2015C) that was approved by the Senate in December 2015. Notably, the proposed changes would:
- Increase the lead content limits for products.
- Remove labeling requirements for the packaging of products containing lead and the exterior parts of processed products containing lead.
- Expand the exemption for technological products whose function requires lead to include accessories as well.
After the recent enactment of a resolution (No. 668/2016) that regulates the use of plastics bags in the country, a number of plastic bag bills have been proposed in the Chamber of Deputies—most recently, one that would establish measures to reduce their environmental impact (No. 257/2016). The proposal would establish regional programs to encourage the replacement, recovery, and reuse of plastic bags and promote public awareness on the harmful environmental effects associated with the use of bags made from non-biodegradable materials. If approved, the Ministry of Environment would regulate the size and composition of plastic bags within six months of the Bill’s enactment.
The Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development (MADS) has published its Biodiversity Action Plan 2016-2030, which stems from its 2012 National Policy for the Integrated Management of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. Key goals include:
- Restoring one million hectares of degraded land by 2030.
- Carrying out strategic environmental assessments for “4G” telecommunications infrastructure, highway concession projects, mining, and energy expansion programs, and urban and rural developments.
- Formulating and implementing a National Bioprospecting Strategy by 2020.
Draft Hazardous Chemicals Regulations Published
The Ministry of Health has published two draft technical regulations adopting the Globally Harmonized System of classification and hazard communications for hazardous chemical products. The first regulation would govern registration, import, and safety data sheets. Posted for public comment earlier this year, the draft regulation has been slightly modified to narrow its scope and provide new product exemptions, definitions, and response times to registration applications. The second regulation would govern the labeling of hazardous chemical products. If approved, the two draft regulations combined would replace the Regulation for the Registration of Hazardous Chemical Products (Executive Decree No. 28113-S/1999).
The Ministry of Health, in coordination with the Ministry of Environment & Energy and the Business Development Association, launched the National Strategy for Waste Separation, Recovery, and Reuse 2016-2021. The Strategy stems from the National Plan for Integrated Waste Management 2016-2021, which provides a roadmap for public and private entities in the short, medium, and long terms to achieve comprehensive waste management in the country. The Plan was created under the Law for Integrated Waste Management (No. 8839) and replaces the Solid Waste Plan (PRESOL) 2008-2015. Within this framework, the Strategy aims to reach a 15% recycling rate in Costa Rica by 2018.
The Federal Attorney for Environmental Protection (PROFEPA) carried out its 3rd National Highway Operation of 2016 to ensure that materials, substances, and hazardous wastes are being transported in accordance with federal laws and regulations for the transport and transboundary movement of wastes. PROFEPA detected the irregular handling of 58.5 tons of hazardous waste, including fluorescent lamps, lead-acid batteries, used oils, and biological and infectious wastes. The Operation led to 8 administrative penalties.
PROFEPA has published its 2015 Activities Report, which documents actions taken to protect the environment and ensure compliance with national environmental laws and regulations, and the results achieved. The Report consists of four sections:
- Results of Institutional Management.
- Strategic Operations and Relevant Actions.
- International Cooperation.
- Capacity Building.
The Government of Mexico has submitted a response to the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) on its management of discarded analog televisions during the countrywide transition from analog broadcasting signals to digital after several individuals and NGOs asserted (via Submission SEM-15-002) that Mexico was mismanaging its National Digital Television Transition Program by failing to effectively enforce national environmental laws and uphold international environmental obligations. The response addresses five key issues:
- Waste classification and application of hazardous waste provisions.
- Development and implementation of the National Digital Television Transition Program.
- Discarded analog television waste.
- Communication, access to information, and public participation.
- Effective implementation of the Stockholm Convention.
According to the General Director for Energy Efficiency in the Ministry of Mines and Energy (MEM), the technical regulation for energy efficiency labeling is in the final stages of approval and should be published shorty via Supreme Decree. The regulation will be mandatory for manufacturers and importers of electrical products and will go into effect one year after its publication in the Official Gazette.
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) have released a report that evaluates Peru’s environmental performance between 2003 and 2013 and provides recommendations for improvement. As a participant of the OECD’s Country Program, Peru has developed the report according to OECD criteria and methodologies.
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.