Subscribe to My Feed

Tell a Friend

  • Polls

    How Is My Site? / ¿Cómo es mi sitio web?

    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...
  • Recent Comments:

  • « | Home | »

    Colombia’s New Hazardous Waste Law

    By Keith R | January 17, 2009

    Topics: Waste & Recycling | No Comments »

    1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (No Ratings Yet)

    At the end of 2008 Colombia adopted a new Law on Prohibitive Environmental Norms Regarding Hazardous Waste and Discards.  The new law is intended to close loopholes in prior law regarding hazardous waste imports, to toughen sanctions and enforcement, and to clarify liability for hazardous wastes from cradle-to-grave.  That it does, mostly.

    But it repeats an mistake I find too often in Colombian environmental legislation, especially in the waste area: it does not clean up past legislative/regulatory messes.

    This is not the first Colombian legislation to deal with hazardous waste, or even the second, third or fourth.* The new law, just like all these other instruments, says that its provisions derogate any provisions to the contrary in prior instruments.  But it does not explicitly derogate or repeal any specific prior instrument or articles of such instruments.  What that can mean in practice is some legal confusion and dispute about what supersedes what that only gets resolved via years of legal wrangles in the courts.  [Yes, folks, Colombia can be that litigious.]

    Scope. The law defines “hazardous waste” as any waste or scrap that due to its corrosive, reactive, explosive, toxic, flammable, infectious or radioactive characteristics can cause direct or indirect risks, harm or undesirable effects to human health and the environment.  Also considered as hazardous wastes are any packaging that has come into contact with hazardous waste.

    The Law also says that the Environment Ministry (MAVDT) can define as hazardous waste or scrap any waste that contains substances, elements or components different the above, under complementary or concurrent classification criteria, although the Law requires MAVDT to take into account any classification made by United Nations bodies or international treaties on the subject or by specialized organizations, whether national or international.  [Temas Observation: This provision frankly looks like it was intended to empower MAVDT to classify certain end-of-life (EOL) products — such as waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) — as hazardous waste, if need be.  The reference to classification by UN bodies probably means the United Nations Recommendations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods, whereas the reference to treaties likely is a nod to the Basel Convention.]

    Trade. The Law bans the introduction, importation or traffic of hazardous wastes into the national territory by any natural or legal person, whether of public or private character.  Anyone illegally introducing such cargo into the territory will be required to return it immediately, in accordance with customs legislation and without prejudice to possible sanctions.

    The only hazardous wastes that will be allowed to be exported are those that, due to their complexity, cannot be treated in an environmental and sanitary manner within national territory.  In such cases the generator, transporter and recipient of the hazardous waste must comply with the provisions of the Basel Convention and relevant national regulations.

    Waste Hydrocarbons. The use of waste hydrocarbons, including waste lubricant oils intended for energy generation, will only be permitted if they are generated within Colombia and comply with conditions and requisites set by competent authorities.

    Disposal. The Law bans the reception or final disposal of hazardous wastes in sanitary landfills not physically and technically equipped to handle such wastes.  [Temas Observation: Technically this was already not supposed to happen under existing law.]

    Existing Hazardous Waste Deposits. The national government, together with the competent environmental authority, must develop inter-sectoral, national and international efforts to treat, remove and dispose of stocks and buried caches of hazardous waste, as well as machinery and elements that have come into contact with them.

    Liability. Although the Law makes generators responsible for the hazardous wastes that they generate, it makes the manufacturer, importer and/or transporter take the role of generator and assume liability for any wastes (and the personal protection items used in handling them) resulting from chemical products or substances with hazardous characteristics regarding the management of packaging, transport or mobilization, storage, unloading and receipt at final disposal.

    What are the responsibilities of hazardous waste generators under the new Law?

    Other Follow-up Mandated. The Law also calls for the government to take actions to:

    Sanctions Regime. The sanctions for violations of the new Law, depending on the severity of the infraction, can include:


    * These include the Sanitary Code, a 1986 Health Ministry Resolution on Special Wastes, a 1994 Environment Ministry Resolution on Hazardous Waste Imports, a 1996 Economic Development Ministry decree, and a 1998 Hazardous Waste Law.

    Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

    Subscribe to My Comments Feed

    Leave a Reply