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Towards Zero Waste Legislation

Towards Zero Waste Legislation

By Jonatan González Suárez

Last year, in the State of Morelos, the old model of garbage management made a crisis and showed that in this way it is not possible to give an integral solution to the old problem, even if it is an environmental management problem it becomes by action or omission in violation of a series of constitutional and legal guarantees to the detriment of those of us who live in these directions.


Last year, in the State of Morelos, the old model of garbage management made a crisis and showed that in this way it is not possible to give a comprehensive solution to the old problem, even if it is an environmental management problem, it becomes by action or omission in violation of a series of constitutional and legal guarantees to the detriment of those of us who live in these directions.

The problem of garbage is beyond us, thousands of tons of solid waste are scattered throughout the state without an adequate legal framework to handle this problem. The right seems to be absent or at least delayed.

While the state congress is pending approval of a Solid Waste Law, each of the municipalities faces the problem with different criteria and ideas; For some it does not represent a priority problem, they simply throw it away, others privatize the collection service and final destination so that the garbage ends up in a sanitary landfill, the least already enter the concept of zero waste giving a sample of responsible management, for true with great creativity.

Mexico and Morelos, even more, are late in regulating solid waste, since countries such as Germany have had legislation since 1972, the United States in 1976, and in our country the General Law for the Prevention and Comprehensive Management of Waste is published until April 28, 2003 and by virtue of the transitory article, thirteenth, its validity is subject to the publication of its regulations; which finally entered the legal world in November 2006, for its part, the official standard NOM-083-SEMARNAT-2003 that establishes environmental protection measures for the selection of the site, design, construction, operation, monitoring, closure and complementary works of a site for the final disposal of urban solid waste and special handling, entered into force in September 2004. With regard to the state of Morelos, despite the serious crisis generated by the deficient management of solid waste, it has not been possible to prepare the solid waste law.

The problem of solid waste in Morelos (1) is serious since an approximate of 2077 tons per day are produced, with a daily average of 1.3 kg per inhabitant.

To date, there is neither the infrastructure nor the adequate legislation. There are only two landfills that comply with the official standard and their useful life is shortened as there is no concept of zero waste in the waste cycle and they continue to be managed with the old linear scheme in which most of the waste ends on those sites. On the other hand, most of the municipalities do not have regulations that comply with the provisions established by the General Law for the Prevention and Comprehensive Management of Waste, the regulations that exist practically only require collection and final disposal.

There is practically only one municipality, Jantetelco, which has managed to implement the zero waste program, with other City Councils on this route seeking a solution to this problem within that concept. For its part, the Cuernavaca City Council has decided to privatize solid waste management, which seems to be moving away from advanced management schemes.

However, even in the absence of a state law on solid waste, it is possible to develop municipal regulations based on the General Law for the Prevention and Integral Management of Waste and its regulations, since this law is a framework law, that is to say that it provides the legal tools for municipalities to adopt legal measures that tend to build a new paradigm in the management of solid waste, especially with regard to what is stipulated in article 10, which establishes:


The municipalities are in charge of the functions of integral management of urban solid waste, which consist of the collection, transfer, treatment, and its final disposal, in accordance with the following powers:

I. Formulate, by itself or in coordination with the federal entities, and with the participation of representatives of the different social sectors, the Municipal Programs for the Prevention and Comprehensive Management of Urban Solid Waste, which must observe the provisions of the Program State for the Prevention and Comprehensive Management of Waste corresponding;

II. Issue the regulations and other legal-administrative provisions of general observance within their respective jurisdictions, in order to comply with the provisions of this Law and the legal provisions issued by the corresponding federal entities;

III. Control solid urban waste;

IV. Provide, by itself or through managers, the public service for the integral management of urban solid waste, observing the provisions of this Law and state legislation on the matter;

V. Grant the authorizations and concessions of one or more of the activities that include the provision of comprehensive management services for urban solid waste;

SAW. Establish and update the registry of large urban solid waste generators;

VII. Verify compliance with the provisions of this Law, official Mexican standards and other legal regulations on urban solid waste and impose applicable sanctions and security measures;

VIII. Participate in the control of hazardous waste generated or managed by microgenerators, as well as impose the appropriate sanctions, in accordance with the applicable regulations and what is established in the agreements signed with the governments of the respective federative entities, in accordance with the established in this Law;

IX. Assist in the prevention of contamination of sites with hazardous materials and wastes and their remediation;

X. Make the collection for the payment of the services of integral management of urban solid waste and allocate the income to the operation and the strengthening of the same, and

XI. The others that are established in this Law, the Mexican official norms and other legal systems that are applicable.

Constitutional framework for solid waste management.

ARTICLECONSTITUTIONAL PROVISION
115The municipalities will be in charge of cleaning services (1983), collection, transfer, treatment and final disposal of waste (1999).
124The powers that are not expressly granted by the Constitution to federal officials are understood to be reserved to the states.
73Congress is empowered to enact laws that establish the concurrence of the Federal Government, the Governments of the States and the Municipalities in the scope of their competences, in matters of environmental protection and preservation of ecological balance.
25Under criteria of social equity and productivity, companies in the social and private sectors of the economy will be supported and promoted, subjecting them to the modalities dictated by the public interest and the use, for general benefit, of productive resources, taking care of their conservation and environment.
4Everyone has the right to an environment suitable for their development and well-being.

Legal framework for solid waste management.

General Law for the Prevention and Comprehensive Management of Waste
Regulation of the General Law for the Prevention and Comprehensive Management of Waste
NOM-083-SEMARNAT-2003
Municipal regulations
International treaties: FTA, others that may affect hazardous waste, Basel Convention.


* Law degree, litigating in defense of the environment in the State of Morelos. Member of Acción Ecológica A.C. and the Union of Jurists of Mexico.

Reference: (1) "State Proposal for the Sustainable Comprehensive Management of Urban Solid Waste" CEAMA, page 11, 2007.


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