New law on solid waste goes into effect

The government has just cleared the new law on solid wastes. Former President Danilo Medina had vetoed the bill, but now it is law since 2 October 2020 on a rare technicality. Diario Libre reports on the good, bad and ugly parts of the General Law for Integral Management and Co-processing of Solid Wastes in the Dominican Republic.”

The good includes establishing a legal framework for the three Rs for solid wastes — reduction, reuse and recycling. The law also establishes norms for the disposal of and punishment of improper solid wastes disposal. The law puts numbers on this issue and gives guidelines for paying for these services. There is to be a Green Bond” for financing or re-financing green projects. And the law identifies where the monies will come from: a special trust fund. This fund will be financed by taxpayers and companies that produce the waste.

A new department at the Ministry of the Environment will oversee policy and regulate the handling of these waste products. And everyone is held responsible: manufacturer, importer or retailers.

Local municipalities and their city councils will have a say in this and their responsibilities are outlined. Finally, also on the good side, there will be reparations for damages and a new educational program for the citizenry and consequences for violations that can reach RD$15 million.

On the bad side… the law does not put a time limit to the elimination of single-use plastics such as foam food containers or supermarket plastic bags. And there is no mention of plastic straws or movers. The law also leaves the door open for micro-plastics. And finally, what to do with non-recyclable products is left up in the air.

As for the ugly, there are a couple of articles that will certainly be questioned in the courts since they favor particular interest groups who stand to reap millions from the trust fund, retroactively. The incentives clause also favors just a few, rather than the entrepreneur who wishes to enter the recycling business. Lastly, and sadly enough, the Diario Libre story points to grammatical errors in the text that could lead to ambiguities in the interpretation of the law.

The newspaper makes the point that a lot of the negative issues could be mitigated with the passing of well thought out regulations for the application of the law.

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Diario Libre

12 October 2020