Plastics and packaging laws in Chile

1. What is the general legislative framework regulating packaging and plastic waste in your jurisdiction?

Current Chilean legislation contemplates environmental regulations in relation to plastic and packaging waste:

  1. Law No. 20.920, published on 1 June 2016.

    It "establishes a Framework for Waste Management, Extended Producer Responsibility and the Promotion of Recycling". This law aims to incorporate the recovery of waste as a primary element in solid waste management and to introduce in the existing regulation on the matter, an economic instrument that seeks to generate mechanisms to increase the recycling of waste that is current-ly disposed of in sanitary landfills or deposited in illegal dumps.  In addition, some environmental management instruments are established in the matter of waste, among them the EPR (Extended Producer Responsibility), which means that the manufacturer or importer are responsible for the product once its useful life is over, and must comply with recycling goals established by the Ministry of the Environment.
     
  2. Law No. 21.100, published on 3 August 2018 and enacted on 3 February 2019, which "Prohibits Commercial
    Establishments from Distributing Plastic Bags throughout the Country".

    This law, whose purpose is the protection of the environment, establishes the prohibition for commercial establishments to distribute plastic bags throughout the country. Bags that are primary food packaging, which are necessary for hygienic reasons or because their use helps prevent food waste, are excluded from this prohibition.
     
  3. The bill proposal for new law No. 12.633-12, which "Limits the Generation of Disposable Products and Regulates Plastics" (hereinafter, the "Bill"), which should be published in June of 2021.  

    The purpose of the bill is to protect the environment and reduce the generation of waste by limiting the distribution, by food establishments, of single-use products, such as cups, bowls, cutlery, toothpicks, chopsticks, straws, plates, boxes, cooked food packaging, trays, sachets, placemats and lids, as long as they are not reusable; to promote reuse; to regulate disposable plastic bottles; to certify plastics; and to control and sanction food establishments and bever-age retailers for non-compliance with the obligations set forth in the law and regulations.
     
  4. In the drafting of the new Chilean constitution, strong protection is expected for the right to live in an environment free of pollution, which could generate ro-bust legislation on decontamination, waste and plastics. 

2. Are there any measures, existing or expected, in respect of single-use plastics?

Law No. 21.100 establishes the prohibition for commercial establishments to distribute plastic bags throughout the country. Bags that are primarily for food packaging, which are necessary for hygienic reasons or because their use helps prevent food waste, are excluded from this prohibition.

On the other hand, the Bill that "Limits the Generation of Disposable Products and Regulates Plastics" aims at protecting the environment and reducing the generation of waste, through:

  1. The limitation on the distribution, by food establishments, of single-use products, such as cups, bowls, cutlery, toothpicks, chopsticks, straws, plates, boxes, cooked food packaging, trays, sachets, placemats and lids, as long as they are not reusable. 

    The Law will prohibit the distribution of single-use products, regardless of the material they are made of, for consumption within the establishment.
     
  2. Encouraging the reuse and certification of single-use plastics.

    Establishments that deliver single-use products have the obligation to inform consumers of the ecological impact and the importance of its recovery.

    Beverage retailers must make consumers aware of the importance of the returnable bottle, publicising on their shelves the obligation to offer it for sale. The Ministry of the Environment will promote and implement environmental education programs aimed at citizens on the ecological impact of single-use products and the importance of reducing their consumption, and will promote the use of reusable and returnable products.
     
  3. The regulation of disposable plastic bottles. 

    Disposable plastic bottles that are sold by any individual or organisation must be composed of a percentage of plastic that has been collected and recycled within the country, in the proportions determined by the regulation that will be issued by the Ministry of the Environment within 18 months of the publication of the law.

    All beverage retailers will be obliged to offer beverages in returnable bottles and to receive this packaging from consumers. The regulation will determine the percentage of returnable bottles that supermarkets must offer and have available in display cases for sale.

    Importers of beverages in plastic bottles will be exempt from these obligations, and they must comply with the obligations contained in Law No. 20.920, which "Establishes a Framework for Waste Management, Extended Producer Responsibility and the Promotion of Recycling".  Beverage products that are from micro, small or medium-sized companies will also be exempt from these obligations, as provided for in paragraph two of article two of Law No. 20.416, which "Sets Special Rules for Smaller Companies".
     
  4. Certification of reusable plastics.

    It will be the responsibility of the Ministry of the Environment to grant the certificates, in accordance with the requirements and procedures established by the regulations that will be issued by the Ministry of the Environment within 18 months of the publication of the law. Food establishments that distribute single-use certified plastic products must display the certificate in question in a visible way to the public: on their website and on the product.

3. Are there any existing or expected producer responsibility schemes in place for packaging or plastics?

Law No. 20.920 establishes Extended Producer Responsibility regarding the waste pro-duced by the products, which means that the manufacturer or importer must be responsible for the product once its useful life is over, and must meet the recycling goals established by the Ministry of the Environment.  

Extended Producer Responsibility implies that producers of priority products must comply with certain obligations such as registering, organising and financing waste management, meeting collection and recovery goals through a management system and ensuring that authorised handlers carry out the treatment of collected waste.
The EPR implies that producers of priority products must comply with certain obligations such as registering, organising and financing waste management, meeting collection and recovery goals through a management system and ensuring that authorised handlers carry out the treatment of collected waste.

The extended producer responsibility will apply to the categories or subcategories defined in the respective decrees that establish goals and other associated obligations, for the fol-lowing priority products:

  1. Lubricating oils;
  2. Electrical and electronic devices;
  3. Batteries;
  4. Containers and packaging; and
  5. Tires. 

Decree No. 12 of the Ministry of the Environment, published on 16 March 2021, in rela-tion to Law No. 20.920, establishes that, in the case of containers and packaging, extended producer responsibility will be applicable to producers, which introduce packaged con-sumer goods into the national market, whose packaging is composed of, at least, one of these five materials:

  1. Liquid packaging carton; 
  2. Metal; 
  3. Paper and cardboard; 
  4. Plastic; and
  5. Glass.

Decree No. 12 of the Ministry of the Environment, regulates the obligations of producers subject to extended responsibility:

  1. Register in the Pollutant Release and Transfer Register of the Ministry of the Environment, in accordance with the provisions of the regulations of this regis-tration and deliver the information requested, directly to the Pollutant Release and Transfer Register, if it is an individual management system, or through the corresponding collective management system without prejudice to the obliga-tions to deliver information under other regulatory bodies;
  2. Organise and finance the collection of packaging waste throughout the country, as well as its storage, transport and treatment in accordance with current regu-lations;
  3. Meet the collection and recovery goals of packaging waste;
  4. Comply with the associated obligations that correspond to them;
  5. Ensure that packaging waste management is carried out by authorised and reg-istered handlers; and,
  6. Ensure that commercially sensitive information that is shared in compliance with the law cannot be known to other producers, respecting the applicable reg-ulations on free competition in the market and subject to Law No. 19.628 on the protection of private life.

On the other hand, Bill No. 12.633-12 establishes information obligations for beverage retailers regarding the environmental impact of single-use plastics, the obligation to dis-play in a visible way to the public, on their website and on the product, the certification of the plastic product and the obligation to raise awareness about the returnability of the bot-tles of the beverage retailers. 

4. Are there any existing or expected deposit return schemes (“DRS”) in place for packaging or plastics?

Law No. 20.920 establishes that the deposit return scheme will be regulated by a decree issued by the Superintendency of the Environment. This decree has not yet been issued. 

In addition, Bill No. 12.633-12 establishes that all beverage retailers will be obliged to offer beverages in returnable bottles and to receive this packaging from consumers. 

5. Are there any existing or expected taxes on packaging or plastics?

In Chile, packaging and plastics are not subject to special taxes and the Bill does not estab-lish regulations on the subject.   

6. Are there any measures, existing or expected, regarding micro-plastics or the use of microbeads in products?

Chile's Environmental Regulations do not specifically regulate the use of micro-plastics or microbeads in products.  The Bill will only regulate the use of recycled plastic.

7. Are there any existing or expected recycling or waste reduction targets in place for packaging or plastics?

Decree No. 12 of the Ministry of the Environment, published on 16 March 2021, in rela-tion to Law No. 20.920, which “establishes the Framework for Waste Management, Ex-tended Producer Responsibility and the Promotion of Recycling" establishes the targets for the collection and recovery of household and non-household packaging waste.

i. Regarding the targets of collection and recovery of household packaging waste

Producers of household packaging will be obliged to comply, through a man-agement system, with the following targets for the collection and recovery of waste with respect to the total amount of household packaging introduced by them in the national market:

YearProducts    
 Cardboards for LiquidsMetalPaper and CardboardsPlasticGlass
First5%6%5%3%11%
Second8%9%9%6%15%
Third11%12%14%8%19%
Fourth15%15%18%11%22%
Fifth19%17%23%14%26%
Sixth23%21%28%17%31%
Seventh27%25%34%20%37%
Eighth31%29%39%23%42%
Ninth36%32%45%27%47%
Tenth40%36%50%30%52%
Eleventh50%45%60%37%58%
From Eleventh60%55%70%45%65%

During the first four years that the goals are in force, producers may meet up to 50% of the targets corresponding to each subcategory with an amount of tons equivalent to any of the other subcategories, excluding glass.

ii. Regarding the targets for collection and recovery of non-household packaging waste.  

Producers of non-household packaging will be obliged to comply, through a management system, with the following targets for the collection and recovery of waste with respect to the total amount of non-household packaging intro-duced by them into the national market:

YearProducts  
 MetalPaper and CardboardsPlastics
First23%48%13%
Second32%54%29%
Third42%60%25%
Fourth51%65%32%
Fifth61%71%38%
Sixth64%74%42%
Seventh66%78%46%
Eight68%81%51%
From Ninth70%85%55%

During the first four years that the targets are in force, producers may meet up to 100% of the targets corresponding to each subcategory with an amount of tons equivalent to any of the other subcategories.

8. Is the use of recycled materials in food packaging regulated?

Bill No. 12.633-12 establishes that 70% of the plastic collected and recycled in the country must be incorporated into disposable plastic bottles by 2060.  Likewise, this percentage may not be less than 15% by 2025; 25% by 2030; 50% by 2040, and 60% by 2050.

Bill No. 12.633-12 has large fines for infringement of the single-use plastics regulations.

The distribution of unauthorised single-use products will be fined between UTM 1 and UTM 5 for each product (between approximately EUR 59.25 and EUR 296.24 as of the drafting of this guide). (The UTM, unidad tributaria mensual, is a unit of account used in Chile for tax and fine purposes, adjusted for inflation.) The same fine will be applicable for each disposable plastic bottle that is sold without the corresponding certification.

Infringement of the returnable bottle obligation of the beverage retailers will be fined between UTM 1 and UTM 20 (between approximately EUR 59.25 and EUR 1,185 as of the drafting of this guide), for each day that returnable bottles are not available for sale. It will also be understood that they are not available when there are no shelves established to offer beverages in returnable bottles or there is no mechanism to receive them from consumers.

Fines of between UTM 1 and UTM 20 (EUR 59.25 and EUR 1,185) will be levied for infringement of information obligations, such as infringing the obligation to inform consumers about waste recovery and raising awareness about the ecological impact of food establishments that distribute products for consumption off-premises, the obligation to display in a visible way to the public (on its website and on the product), the certification of the plastic product of beverage retailers, and the obligation to raise awareness about the returnability of the bottles. 

Portrait of Stephan Luhrmann
Stephan Lührmann, LL.M.
Partner
Santiago