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26 DE MAYO DE 2016

[ARCHIVO] President Bachelet enacts the Recycling and Extended Producer Liability Law

President Michelle Bachelet traveled to the Fromm company in Quilicura this morning, accompanied by the Environmental Minister, Pablo Badenier, and Minister of Health, Carmen Castillo, to enact the Recycling and Extended Producer Liability Law, which will establish an efficient public policy for waste management. With this milestone, Chile takes a historic first step, becoming the first country in Latin America to adopt this type of legislation. The new law will increase the country’s reuse rates – currently at 10% -, thereby reducing the volume of waste sent to landfills and dumps and promoting cultural change around the issue.

On this occasion, the president stressed the relevance of this step towards environmental protection, emphasizing that “what we are doing today is incredibly important, because it will enable us to generate the cultural change that we need (…) What we are doing, by enacting this law, is assuming our individual responsibility in terms of waste management, from individual households to corporations to the government”.

The law regulates six priority products: lubricant oils: electrical and electronic appliances, car batteries, batteries, packaging, and tires. Producers and/or importers must take responsibility for these products at the end of their useful life, returning them to the industries where they were manufactured or to the warehouses where their distribution originated.

The public will also form a fundamental part of the recycling chain and should separate and return any used priority product to a handler, who is contracted through a management system. Regarding this shared responsibility, President Bachelet highlighted that “it is everyone’s responsibility to protect the environment, fight climate change and protect ourselves against its most critical harmful effects, because they threaten our future and that of future generations”.

She added that “this is exactly the purpose of the law we are enacting today: to coordinate and systematize the efforts of all stakeholders to reduce pollution and in turn, stimulate the economy”.

President Bachelet specified that a recycling industry will be created, generating green jobs, enterprises related to reuse, and the formalization of over 60,000 grassroots recyclers, who will receive a special designation that identifies them as handlers under the Recycling Law, and they will have to be certified under the National Job Skills Certification System.

Municipalities will be authorized to sign waste management system agreements with grassroots recyclers. The Law will authorize them to approve requests for permits to install and/or operate product reception and storage sites. They will also be required to separate waste at its source and will promote environmental education and design and implement communication and awareness strategies and prevention measures.

The Law also assigns new waste management competencies to the Ministry: certification, marking and labeling, deposit-refund system, eco-design, mechanisms for separation at source and selective collection, mechanisms for environmentally sound waste management, and mechanisms for preventing waste generation.

Likewise, this ministry will be responsible for implementing and managing a registry system and information platform, reviewing and authorizing management plans, designing and implementing environmental education programs, and overseeing implementation through the Environmental Superintendence, which may apply penalties, including written warnings and fines up to 10 thousand UTA (5.4 billion pesos) for producers and importers.

At the end of her speech, President Bachelet stressed that the responsibility for meeting recycling goals will fall on companies and citizens, and she called for an “awareness of our responsibility: what we do where we live, where we work and where we study have repercussions on nature, affect the environment, our families, our lives and those of future generations”.