DR’s Solid Waste Bill goes easy on eliminating polluting plastics

The Dominican Republic’s Solid Waste Bill (General Bill for the Comprehensive Management and Co-Processing of Solid Wastes) was approved by the Chamber of Deputies on 23 July 2020 and sent to the Executive Branch six days later. President Danilo Medina has not yet enacted the bill.

The bill had lingered for 10 years in Congress. Most of the deputies and senators passing the bill were not voted to continue in the next government that starts 16 August 2020.

As reported in Diario Libre, the legislation has 176 articles, which include most of the considerations that affect the timely management of waste, including regulatory, operational, financial, educational, institutional, logistical and even punitive aspects.

Nevertheless, the feature says that the bill was soft on the use of foam and plastics by local companies. The original bill had given companies two years to begin the gradual elimination of the mass pollutants. As passed, the Solid Waste Bill gives companies five years to begin to take action to change. The industrial lobbyists managed to convince the legislators to keep the status quo. Diario Libre explains that Art. 173 of the bill mandates “the creation of a special program for the recovery and disposal of waste from the foam, plastic covers and packaging and any other type of contaminating waste … with a duration of sixty months from the entry into force of this law”. Major Dominican companies produce the foam and plastics that are widely used here for packaging.

Concerning plastic bags, Article 172, paragraph 2, provides that “After 60 months from the enactment of this law, the delivery of free single-use plastic bags in commercial establishments is totally prohibited“.

Another point, small but relevant, is the fact that there is no mention anywhere in the bill of the use of highly disposable and dangerous products such as straws (calimetes).

On the positive side, the bill now allows for new mechanisms for private initiatives for dealing with solid waste that could improve the management of wastes in the country.

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