What is the REP law about? Guide to understanding the new recycling system

“He who pollutes pays”: this is the principle of this new legislation, which transfers responsibility for waste collection to the companies that generate the products. Will there be a recycling truck? Will the points stay clean? All answers below.

September goes away and leaves behind not only the beginning of spring but also the entry into force of Law 20,920 on extended producer responsibility (REP) . A fact which, in different sectors, has been described as “revolutionary”, because it poses a new scenario for the recycling and recovery of containers and packaging.

The REP law establishes that producers and importers of certain products – defined as “priority” – will be responsible for organizing and financing the management of waste resulting from their marketing. The basic principle is simple: “he who pollutes pays”.

The objective of the law is to reduce the production of waste and encourage its reuse and recycling, in order to protect human health and the environment. The idea is to reduce the immense amount of waste we continue to generate.

discharges.  The Maipo River maintains waste on its banks.
The objective is, among other things, that these images begin to disappear.

Worldwide, nearly 10 billion tonnes of waste are produced each year. of which around 500 million tonnes are considered dangerous . The main “producers” of waste are developed countries, such as Germany, France and the United States. China, meanwhile, has become the largest net exporter of hazardous materials.

Despite calls from the United Nations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and move towards carbon neutrality, the data indicates otherwise. The World Bank, for example, estimates that over the next 30 years, waste generation will increase by 70%.

What is happening in Chile? According to Seventh State of the Environment Report , between 2015 and 2020, between 18 and 20 million tonnes of waste were produced each year. In 2020, 51% was industrial waste, while 43% came from municipal and household sources and 3% was classified as hazardous waste.

Only 20% of this waste has been recovered: either recycled, reused or composted, in order to give them a new life as useful products. The rest ended up in a landfill or landfill.

The objective is for these 20% to increase and become the majority. This is what is meant by circular economy, which in turn constitutes the basis of the REP law, which does not only consider containers and packaging. Since January, the legislation has been in force for tire producers and, gradually, those for oils and lubricants, electrical and electronic devices, batteries and finally, battery-based products will be added. The integration of textile materials is also studied.

Now, what is the circular economy? It is a model that establishes that products, components and materials must maintain their usefulness and value at all times. “It’s about preventing, from the design of products and materials, that they generate waste and pollution. Although recycling is an important element of the circular economy, it goes much further,” explains Sonia Reyes, Seremi of the Environment of the Metropolitan Region.

Gradual implementation

From October 2, the new home collection system for qualified waste in the Containers and Packaging (EyE) category will be launched in the country. The task, until now entrusted to the municipalities, will become the responsibility of the Large Management System (Gransic), made up of groups of producers of this type of waste who must comply with the REP law in different territories.

During 2022, the Free Competition Court gave the green light to three Grasnics: ReSimple, ProREP and GIRO. These companies, which will be supervised by the Environmental Superintendency, will have different collection methodologies ranging from specific trucks for each E&E category to cleaning points.

For Tomás Saieg, head of the Circular Economy Office of the Ministry of the Environment (MMA), one of the many advantages of this new system is that “we will have more options for recycling, there will be the ‘truck recycling’ and more. and better infrastructure of clean or green points.

The implementation of this system will be gradual. During the first year, 10% of the country’s municipalities are covered, until reaching 80% coverage in 2035. The collection and recovery objectives for each type of waste will also gradually increase, from 5% in the first year to 70%. % the twelfth, for example.

The two tables present the objectives set by the REP law in terms of containers and packaging, both for household and non-household waste. Image taken from the Prorep.cl website

“Recycling services will gradually expand, municipality by municipality. In some they will start with the collection of waste at home and in others they may have access to a service of own recycling points, depending on the agreement and planning in force”, explains Isidro Pereira, director general manager of Resimple, the largest Grasnic in the region, Containers and Packaging category.

To start, Resimple has a total of 35 municipalities, from Arica to Punta Arenas, with 57 facilities, including clean points and green points. “This network will be strengthened to reach more than 300 points throughout the country by 2027,” says Pereira.

The president of the National Association of the Recycling Industry (ANIR), Nicolás Fernández, believes that the first implementation of the law will extend beyond the first 12 months. “The industry already understands the REP law, but the biggest challenge is to ensure that citizens are informed of what, how and where they should sort and dispose of their waste so that it enters the circular economy cycle promoted by legislation.

This is why Tomás Saieg warns that the law will not work “if from our homes we do not separate and deliver the containers and packaging as indicated by the management system”.

The Grasnics’ work with municipalities will be essential, say those involved. Thanks to these, the interaction with the residents of each municipality will be coordinated, in addition to the delivery of containers or bags for recycling and the days that the truck will spend for home collection. “At the same time, citizen education campaigns will be developed to promote the identification of recyclable materials in a simple and effective way,” explains Pereira.

How to collect and organize waste at home?

As mentioned, homes and communities will be able to access recycling kits and containers, provided by Grasnic, through municipalities. The collection must focus on what the law establishes as the Containers and Packaging (EyE) category, which is made up of the following priority products:

  • Paper and cardboard: These include newspapers, magazines, notebooks, white papers, corrugated boxes, cardboard boxes and molded pulp containers. “There’s no major difference here from what a lot of people are doing now, which is separating boxes, boxes, newspapers, photocopies from the trash and shredding them,” Pereira says.
  • Lightweight packaging: This group considers PET plastic bottles (for drinks, water, juices and oils), PE plastic bottles (for shampoo, detergents and other similar products), plastic containers or packaging (pasta, rice, towels, toilet paper , bread, etc.), aluminum cans (drinks and beers), cans (canned foods) and cardboard beverage containers, commonly known as “tetrapak”. “The light containers must be stored by the neighbors in containers and yellow bags which will be sent to them and which we will then remove from their homes, all together once a week,” explains Pereira. Currently, a pilot awareness plan is being developed to help citizens identify lightweight packaging. There are more than 4,000 products that incorporate a green seal with the legend “I choose to recycle.”
  • Glass: Like bottles of wine, drinks and beers; jars of preserves and perfumes. In this case, explains Pereira, “the neighbors have to take them in bell containers placed in different places in their municipality, a bit like what is happening today.”

Grasnic companies will determine the days and times on which collection will be carried out at home. In some cases, there will be a truck specifically for collecting paper and cardboard and another vehicle for light packaging. Alternatively, it could be a passing truck collecting waste from both categories. Depending on the companies’ agreement with each municipality, collection will be weekly or bi-weekly.

Companies will also be responsible for communicating where collection points, such as green points, will be installed. Many of those that have been organized by municipalities and have shown good results will be maintained for the use of citizens and Grasnics.

“Collected waste will be directed to classification and treatment facilities for further recycling or controlled final disposal. Sometimes, sorting centers will have the capacity to treat mixed waste and will request this from citizens. However, in other cases, a higher level of separation at the origin will be necessary to achieve greater efficiency in accordance with the local infrastructure,” explains Nicolás Fernández.

Pereira emphasizes that when sorting waste at home, “it is essential that it is clean, dry and crushed.”

Certain clean points provided by municipalities in their recycling programs will be maintained to comply with the REP law.

What will happen to municipalities that are not included in the progressive implementation of the REP law?

In these cases, the collection of waste for recycling will remain within the programs established by each municipality.

To find out the 35 municipalities involved in the management of Resimple, click here . Giro, for its part, will manage waste from Independencia, Peñalolén and Recoleta.

Source: Latercera

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