National Solid Waste Policy Bill – August 2014 – deadline or starting point?

In August 2014, a little more than a year, the deadline established by the National Solid Waste Policy Bill (“Política Nacional de Resíduos Sólidos¨) will be reached. From that date on, all solid waste has to be discarded in an environmentally safe manner.

This has huge implications for the present solid waste management services and in fact for all industry and service sectors, besides the consumers and the government – federal, state, and municipal.

The bill is based on 3 fundamental concepts. First, it establishes the difference between residue and reject. Residues are outputs of a process and can destined to some other process like recycling . Rejects have no other use and have to be disposed adequately.

Second, it establishes a hierarchy of how to address the residues, which now is mandatory. And the priority is: no residue generation, reduction, reuse, recycling and treatment. The underlying logic in this hierarchy is that residues are sources of matter and energy with economic value.

Third, it establishes that all players involved in the product lifecycle must share responsibility for its safe disposal. The responsibility of the households, small businesses and service companies whose waste can be handled by municipal collection system is to dispose their waste as determined by the municipality. Companies involved in activities that generate hazardous waste have to develop their own waste management plans and take part on the reverse logistics of their products and packaging after consumption, in a way that is independent from municipal collection systems.

As a consequence, inadequate present garbage disposal areas will have to be shut, and residues will have to be sent to landfills, that will have to be built. Existing garbage disposal areas will have to be remediated. The humid part of domestic waste will have to be segregated and used for composting.  The municipalities will have to establish selective waste collection systems. The industry and their distributors will have to put in place reverse logistics systems to bring back the post consumption products and packaging. The products defined as priority are pesticides and their packaging, batteries, tires, lubricants and their packaging,  fluorescent bulbs, sodium and mercury vapor bulbs, and mixed-light bulbs; and  electronic products and their components. Metal, plastic and glass packaging are also on the list.

In short the bill represents a major change in the culture and business procedures in virtually every market segment. New technologies from product specification and packaging design to waste collection and treatment are more than welcome. New businesses in waste reuse, recycling and treatment will become viable. Reverse logistics systems and solutions will increase in importance as each market segment adapts to the law’s requirements.

Given the size of the country and the wide variety of resources within the more than 5500 municipalities in Brazil one can imagine the enormous challenge that lies ahead. Therefore it is not realistic to expect that everything will be done by August 2014. Rather this date should be considered a hallmark for a new time of opportunities to improve the environment, quality of life and businesses all over the country.


Claudia Lemme

Claudia holds a B.Sc. in Chemical Engineering, School of Chemical Engineering of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, State of Rio de Janeiro and graduated with high distinction as a Master of Business Administration (MBA), University of Michigan Business School, Ann Arbor, MI, USA. She is fluent in Portuguese, English, Spanish and Italian. 

Claudia is the Managing Director of LEMME Consulting and has 30 years of experience in regulatory matters involving water and waste treatment, power generation, oil and gas, petrochemicals medical devices. Claudia has held senior positions in the areas of Business Development, Environment & Sustainability, Oil & Gas and Environmental Protection, Communications, Marketing and Oil and Gas Ventures since 1982 with Promon Engenharia, a longstanding leader of the design engineering industry, with a significant presence in many of the most important Brazilian projects and many other projects abroad.

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Escrito por Claudia Lemme

Engenheira Química com MBA Universidade de Michigan-USA, Consultora com 30 anos de experiência em processos industriais, desenvolvedora da área de meio ambiente e sustentabilidade da Promon Engenharia.

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