Every May 17th we celebrate the International Recycling Day, in Peru, days before this commemorative celebration, was issued the Legislative Decree No. 1501-2020 which amended the national legislation on integrated management of solid waste, making a number of changes in favor of recycling, which will be born compulsorily from our homes. The idea is to make family members aware that garbage must be selected to facilitate a better management of solid waste, which will be recycled and subsequently reused, subject to the rules of the National System of Environmental Impact Assessment, in order to promote sustainable development and care for the environment.
This amendment seeks to (i) make better use of waste material from productive, extractive and service activities, (ii) create a special regime for the management of waste derived from mass consumption, (iii) assign to the Environmental Evaluation and Oversight Agency (OEFA) the supervision, oversight and sanction of solid waste management applicable to the owners of solid waste infrastructure, whether municipal, provincial or district, (iv) typify infringing behavior and approve the scale of penalties, (v) prepare, manage and update the national inventory of areas degraded by solid waste, (vi) implement and operate within the framework of the emergency declaration, (vi) manage the information generated as a result of the exercise of its powers and enter it into the Information System for Solid Waste Management (SIGERSOL) and (vii) supervise, oversee and sanction those responsible for areas degraded by solid waste for recovery or reconversion, whether or not they have environmental management instruments.
Following this order of ideas, the Ministry of Health, through the General Directorate of Environmental Health (DIGESA), will be the competent authority to regulate the management of solid waste from health establishments and medical services, health campaigns and medical attention of patients in their homes, control the health risks generated and determine the application of safety measures to avoid health risks, supervising and controlling the management of solid waste in health establishments, services, medical centers and health campaigns.
On the other hand, the legislative decree modified the regulation of the Provincial and District Municipalities regarding municipal waste management, especially in the management of solid waste that must include operations of segregation, sweeping and cleaning of public spaces, selective collection, transportation, storage, conditioning, valorization, transfer, treatment and final disposal, being the segregation of municipal and non-municipal waste management mandatory, which must be carried out at the source of generation, including valorization as an alternative for management, handling and processing of solid waste.
It should be noted that the law seeks to create formal employment through recyclers’ associations so hundreds of informal recyclers working in the streets can set up micro and small businesses to become solid waste operators, marketing waste with recovery infrastructure and transfer and treatment plants, thus avoiding informal collectors, dealing directly with a real value for the sale of solid waste and reducing the cost of operations for the transportation of tons that end up in landfills, which in some cases, due to poor management, generate environmental contamination.
Regarding the management of resources in the municipalities, they will be able to sign inter-institutional agreements with the companies that provide public services, being able to make discounts in the payment of taxes as incentives to the citizens that comply with the segregation at the source of the waste they generate within the framework of the Program of Segregation at the Source and Selective Collection, among other types of incentives, with the purpose of promoting a recycling culture in all Peruvians.
Due to the pandemic in which we currently live, Title IX – Management and handling of solid waste in emergency situations officially decreed by the national government – has been incorporated, which provides for the management of solid waste in emergency situations, specifying the instruments of environmental management, the continuity of the integral waste service and the intervention of the Ministry of the Environment, which prepares, regulates and approves provisions, guidelines, protocols or other similar instruments of mandatory compliance during emergency situations such as COVID-19.
Peru has previously passed laws on integrated solid waste management and on single-use plastic, the purpose of which is to prevent the indiscriminate dumping of solid waste. Recycling reduces environmental pollution, protects natural resources, contains climate change, and it is the responsibility of all citizens to take care of the environment.
In conclusion, with this new legislative decree, we seek to make recycling mandatory, give a true valorization of waste, create formal employment for recyclers, offering them to form recycling companies, incentives of taxes, currently there are already formal companies that have begun to recycle their packaging products, such as plastics, solid waste management programs and sustainable development that have been awarded by various national and international organizations and entities. Garbage is money, but we must know how to manage solid waste within the formalities of the law, with the sole purpose of having a healthy and sustainable ecosystem for the welfare of future generations.