Conference Notes Latin Countries Get Tough on Take It Back

Latin American federal and state governments are moving to European-style "takeback" laws this year on products from plastic packaging, to batteries and tires, according to consultant Keith Ripley, who spoke at the "Take It Back!" Pacific Rim Conference this spring in Los Angeles.

"If you pay attention to Europe only, you might be blind-sided by new laws in Latin America or Asia," Ripley says.

For example, Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, has enacted a stringent plastic packaging takeback law that requires that importers guarantee takeback and must devote a portion of their advertising budgets to anti-litter or recycling education.

Additionally, importers are forbidden to mention disposability on the labels.

According to Ripley, a similar bill is making its way through the Brazil federal legislature. The country already has enacted a tire and battery recycling law, and is looking at new laws on waste electronics and autos.

A number of other Latin American countries are moving on their own versions of waste bills, most of which include "extended producer responsibility" provisions for manufacturers, Ripley says.

Several countries have aid contracts with Germany, a country well-known for its stringent packaging takeback laws, he says.

For instance, Argentina's legislature is working on a bill that would authorize mandatory recovery of all household wastes, restricting landfilling to products that cannot be recycled or reused. Mexico is considering a new packaging takeback law modeled on Spain's regulations.

Many countries also are looking at different deposit schemes for beverage containers and other problem wastes.

Attorney Richard Ferris, an expert on Asian environmental law, noted that China banned imports of all used electronic items as of April 1. Taiwan also is revising its takeback laws for packaging, electronics and batteries because many citizens have deemed the laws confusing.

Bente Gansum, an official with the Norwegian Pollution Control Authority, detailed the status of the proposed directive on waste electronics and electrical equipment in Europe.

In 1998, approximately 6 million tons of waste electronics and electrical equipment were generated in Europe, making up 4 percent of the solid waste stream. This number is expected to double in 12 years, she says.

Proceedings from the conference are available from Raymond Communications Inc., College Park, Md.: Phone: (301) 345-4237.

The conference was organized by Raymond Communications Inc., College Park, Md., and Huls Environmental, Asuza, Calif.