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Chile - Regulation

In Chile, Law 20.920 establishes the basis to develop several areas of importance to the Circular Economy. Through the reduction of the production of waste and the promotion of reuse, recycling, and other forms of recovery, it aims to contribute to the protection of human health and the environment. In addition to its specific measures and its forthcoming implementing legislation, it sets out key principles that inspire it and towards which its development must advance. 

 

Said principles include, among others: 

  • The polluter pays principle: whereby waste generators must bear the burden of dealing with its appropriate handling 
  • The waste hierarchy: which establishes a preference order between different waste handling approaches according to their environmental impact 
  • Transparency, publicity, and traceability: according to which stakeholders must be able to access information on waste management, and specific waste consignments must be traceable along the value chain

 

Law 20.920 is complemented by Law 21.368, regulating single-use plastics and plastic bottles, which aims at preventing waste generation by curbing the use of single-use plastic products. 

 

The systems foreseen under both laws will be developed and operated by Chile’s Ministry of the Environment. Supervisory functions will be performed by Chile’s Superintendency of the Environment (Superintendencia del Medio Ambiente). Where envisaged rules affect areas where other ministries are competent, the Ministry of the Environment will chair inter-ministerial committees. 

 

The full name of Law 20.920 is “Law establishing a framework for waste management, extended producer responsibility, and the promotion of recycling”. Being a framework law, it sets general guidelines and provides for the further development of regulations in several areas, including: 

 

  • Ecodesign for more sustainable products 
  • Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) 
  • Requirements for waste management operators 
  • Import and export of waste

 

The regulations developed for waste management and trade will apply to all waste, irrespective of the product category. On the other hand, the Law establishes some “Priority Products” to which the implementation of EPR will be limited in the beginning. 

 

What products will be covered by EPR? 
The Law provides that EPR obligations will apply to what it calls “Priority Products”. In this cases, product-specific regulations will detail waste collection and recovery targets that producers must achieve, together with any related obligations necessary to the achievement of said targets. The product-specific regulations will also detail potential limitations on producer responsibility schemes (such as whether they can be individual or collective) and the roles of distributors, retailers, and industrial consumers (if any). 

 

The six Priority Products established in the law are the ones below: 

Priority Product

Status of the product-specific regulation

Lubricant oils

The impact evaluation and public consultation have been held. The next step is the adoption by government of a Decree Proposal. The current deadline for adoption is 13 October 2022.

Electric and Electronic Equipment (EEE)

While EEE and Batteries were foreseen to be two separate products under the initial law, the government has decided to merge the EPR system for both, due to EEE products and batteries being closely connected.

 

The impact evaluation and public consultation have been held. Due to high participation in the public consultation, the adoption of the proposal has been postponed by 6 months after its initial deadline of May 13 2022.

Batteries

Battery packs

The development of the product-specific regulation for an EPR system for battery packs has not started yet.  

Packaging

Decree 12 of 2020 adopted the product-specific EPR system for packaging.

Tires

Decree 8 of 2019 adopted the product-specific EPR system for tires.

 

In addition to these Priority Products, the law empowers Chilean authorities to adopt EPR systems for other product categories, taking into account the effectiveness of EPR systems for the specific product, its volume, its hazardousness, its recovery potential, and its distribution. Authorities are also enabled to set reporting requirements relative to the quantity of a product placed on the market and waste management activities undertaken by producers. These lighter reporting requirements will apply to newspapers and magazines under the law. 

While the development of detailed actions is left to the product-specific regulations. Law 20.920 establishes the general action categories that can accompany collection and recovery targets. These requirements, known as “Associated Obligations” can be set by authorities as a means to attain the targets, rather than as end targets in themselves. Associated Obligations can relate to: 

  • Labelling 
  • Provision of information to distributers, retailers, waste managers, and consumers
  • Communication and awareness-raising activities 
  • Waste prevention activities 
  • Separate collection 
  • Limits on the presence of hazardous substances 
  • Ecodesign 
  • The establishment and maintenance of waste reception and storage facilities

 

Associated Obligations must be oriented to the achievement of the collection and recovery targets and relate to every product category. Therefore, the details for each Obligation will be set in the product-specific regulations.

What obligations for producers? 
Law 20.920 establishes an obligation for producers to ensure that their products are adequately managed once they become waste. This includes the organization and financing of a waste management system, the attainment of collection and recovery targets,  and ensure that waste management is only done by operators who are properly registered and authorised. Additionally, producers of priority products will have to be registered and submit information in Chile’s Pollutant Release and Transfer Register (RETC). 

 

When it comes to establishing and financing waste management systems, the law allows for the establishment of individual or collective systems. Individual systems are established and managed by one single producer, whereas collective systems involve two or more producers.


In both cases, systems must be reviewed and authorised by the Ministry of Environment, on the basis of information addressing the system’s waste management strategy, financing, and follow-up and verification mechanisms.

 

The product-specific regulations can limit the type of possible systems. Both individual and collective systems are possible under the two regulations adopted so far (packaging and tires). 

 

What obligations for other actors? 
Although producers are the main focus of the law, product-specific regulations can set obligations for other actors in the economy. 


When provided in the product-specific regulation, distributers and retailers will have to set up waste reception and storage systems. These will be financed by the waste management systems established by  producers, and will be free of cost to consumers. 


The law also addresses waste pickers, which are defined as natural persons using artisanal or semi-industrial waste collection and pre-treatment methods. Waste pickers can be included in waste management systems as long as they are registered in Chile’s Pollutant Release and Transfer Register (PRTR) and duly certified. 
Finally, all consumers must dispose of waste through the established waste management systems. Industrial consumers can recover priority waste products themselves. In those cases, they must inform the Ministry of Environment through Chile’s PRTR. 

In addition to Chile’s EPR framework law, Law 21.368, regulating the delivery of single-use plastics and plastic bottles, is another important step towards Circular Economy. It seeks to protect the environment and reduce waste production through three main lines of action: 

  • Imposing limits on the handing out of single-use products in food establishments
  • Promoting the re-use of single-use plastics 
  • Regulating disposable plastic bottles 

 

 

Limitations on single-use products 
The law forbids the handing out of single-use products by food establishments when food is to be consumed on site. This restriction applies to all single-use products, irrespective of the material. 

 

When food is to be consumed off-site, single-use products made from materials other than plastic can be given. Products made from “certified plastic” can also be used. Additionally, the following conditions apply: 

  • Single-use products beyond food containers can only be given when the consumer asks for them. 
  • Food establishments must provide information on the environmental impact of waste and on the appropriate disposal method. 

 

Certified plastics 
Certified plastics are those that are manufactured using renewable resources (totally or partially) and are biodegradable. They must be certified in accordance with the systems to be set by the Ministry of the Environment, proving that they fulfil the necessary requirements. Said requirements will include, at least, a 20% renewable resources content. 

 

Plastic bottles 
The law addresses both disposable and returnable bottles. 
Disposable bottles are those that can not be reused. In this case, the law provides for minimum recycled plastic content requirements to be set in its regulations.

 

Returnable bottles, on the other hand, are those that can be industrially refilled at least five times. All establishments commercially selling bottled drinks will have to offer some products in returnable bottles, and take said bottles back from consumers. The law foresees minimum requirements for the proportion of drinks in returnable bottles offered by supermarkets. These are also to be set in the regulations developing the law, which are still to be adopted. 


Although both the requirements for recycled plastic in disposable bottles and for the amount of returnable bottles to be offered in supermarkets are still to be adopted, the law sets some minimums under which the regulations can not go. 


Disposable plastic bottles must contain at least 15% recycled plastic by 2025. This will increase to 70% by 2060, with an intermediate target of 50% by 2040. 


When it comes to the proportion of returnable bottles, this should be at least 30% three years after the publication of the law (by August 2024). 
 

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