The Congress of Argentina will define in the coming days whether or not it advances in the law of packaging with social inclusion, a project that promotes an ecological management of packaging throughout the country to reduce its impact on the environment, and at the same time seeks to improve the conditions of the population that is dedicated to its recycling and that today works in the informal sector.
The initiative was promoted by the ruling party and bears the signature of President Alberto Fernández, although behind its elaboration there are organizations linked to social movements and the popular economy.
The law establishes the Principle of “Extended Producer Responsibility (REP)”, whereby producers or importers are made responsible for introducing a container for the first time on the market.
In Argentina, 50 thousand tons of waste are produced, of which 20% are post-consumer packaging. If it were not for the cartoneros and cartoneras, these containers would end up in open dumps.
– Itai Hagman (@ItaiHagman) November 19, 2021
Last week, the project obtained an opinion from the Commission for Natural Resources and Conservation of the Human Environment, and it is expected that in the coming days it can be debated in the Chamber of Deputies.
But its approval will not be easy. Since it was presented by the Executive Power, the bill has received strong criticism from the Juntos por el Cambio (Macrismo) bloc and the business chambers, who oppose what they consider “a new tax”.
It happens that the proposal includes, among its central points, the creation of an environmental tax (up to 3% of the sale price) that will be paid by the producers responsible for the packaging placed on the market that cannot be recycled; and the generation of its own collection and reuse system.
The text indicates that with the proceeds from the payment of this fee, a trust will be created, administered by the public bank, which will serve to strengthen public packaging management systems, promote the inclusion of recyclers, promote the recovery of packaging and promote the development of ecodesign, among other objectives.
In a meeting attended by members of various business chambers of the sector, and which was attended by the US Chamber of Commerce (AmCham), the legislators of Together for Change warned that the application of this rate will impact on the price of packaging, generating new “expenses” for industrialists, both local and foreign.
A free ticket to Washington: lobby or cultural exchange?
Lawyer Juan Grabois, a reference to the Excluded Workers Movement (MTE) that groups, among other sectors, urban recyclers, has denounced that several legislators received a curious invitation last week from the Center for American Studies Foundation (CEA) to participate in a program called “Generating spaces for public-private dialogue” in Washington.
According to the invitation, the objective of the meeting is “to know the guidelines of US policy, the main currents of thought that develop in that country, analyze the current state of bilateral relations and discuss issues of common interest to the group” .
For this, the CEA had some scholarships granted by AmCham, which consists of air tickets, accommodation and transfers to the convention. To all this, the US Chamber of Commerce has already publicly rejected the bill proposed by the ruling party, considering it “anachronistic.”
Along these lines, AnCham considered that the measures included in the project “obstruct the generation of jobs, limit new investments, prone to price escalations and create a hostile regulatory environment, restrictive and unpredictable. “
The deputy of the ruling Frente de Todos Itai Hagman has confirmed to RT that he received the invitation to Washington, although he warned that he cannot assure that it is related to the business lobby, since these types of meetings are held “every year.” In addition, he affirmed that he will not travel, although he does not know if other legislators will because he does not know who else received the proposal.
Beyond that, Hagman claims that a “fierce lobby” so that the regulations are not approved, with the support of the hegemonic media in Argentina, which in general brand the initiative as a way to make “cash” and dispose of those resources in a discretionary manner.
“They lie not to pay”
From the Argentine Federation of Cartoneros, Carreros y Recicladores (Faccyr) they issued a statement in which they celebrated the legislative advance of the proposal and left a message for businessmen: “Enough of lying to not pay.”
“The bill is a solution to the problem of urban solid waste. In our country, 50,000 tons of daily waste that ends up in landfills in the open sky, sanitary landfills, rivers or in the sea, polluting the environment and communities. A large part of the waste is post-consumer packaging, that is, it was placed on the market without taking responsibility for what happens after it is discarded. Today, the only ones that prevent the system from collapsing are the 150,000 cartoneros and cartoneras that recover the recyclable material, often working in terrible conditions “, they argue.
The truth is that the current model of consumption and deterioration of the environment requires concrete actions and policies around the world, and many countries have already adopted in their legislation the concept of Extended Producer Responsibility (REP), recommended by the Organization for the Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
Measures in this regard are already in force in the European Union and the United States, and in Latin America and the Caribbean 11 countries contemplate in their normative principles that of Extended Responsibility and that of Extended and Shared Responsibility. In the region, Chile and Colombia stand out, the latter with greater development, as well as in Brazil and Mexico.
The Frente de Todos currently has a majority in the Senate but not in the Deputies, where must negotiate agreements to achieve approval of any of your proposals.
Argentina’s ability to move forward with the packaging law will then depend on the correlation of forces in a Congress that has the opposition emboldened after the victory in the legislative elections, and on the entrepreneurial ability to attract the will of undecided congressmen.
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