Chile Enacts Recycling Regulation


Chile Enacts Recycling Regulation
Used engine oil poured into a tank for recycling. Chile enacted a law last week that aims to recycle used lubricants by giving producers and end-users responsibilities to help recover waste oils. © Zulashai / Shutterstock

Chile enacted a law last week that aims to recycle used lubricants by giving producers and end-users responsibilities to help recover waste oils. One industry insider said it will clear up ambiguous language in previous recycling rules.

“This is a good law – lubricating oil was ignored when it came to recycling,” said Justo Verdejo, executive for the Consortium of Lubricant Companies, adding the country consumes more than 170 million liters (153,000 metric tons) of lubes each year. Until now, he told Lube Report during a phone interview Tuesday, most of the wasted oil generated from that stream has been burned or sent to landfills.

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The new law is part of a broader effort to help Chile transition to a circular economy, a system that eliminates waste and curbs the continual use of resources, said Verdejo. Chile has one of the largest economies in the region, he added, but also has problems getting its citizens to recycle.

Its unclear how Chiles lubricant industry will follow the law, as the country does not have any waste oil rerefineries. The nearest such facility is a small one in Brazil, though Chile has recycling centers that handle about 3 percent of the countrys waste oil.

“There’s expectations the market will grow and that some investors will build a rerefinery in Chile,” said Verdejo, who is also sales manager for industrial lubricants at Enex, Shell’s distributor of fuels, lubricants and other petroleum products in Chile.

In 2016, Chile enacted a law, No. 20,920, seeking to decrease industrial waste and increase reuse and recycling of waste to protect the health of people and the environment. The government created a list of products prioritized for regulations, and lubricating oils were at the top of the list. Electric devices, containers and packaging, tires and batteries were also prioritized.

The law introduces the Extended Producer Responsibility system, which requires producers to organize and finance the collection of the waste throughout Chile. Used items must also be stored, treated and transported by authorized personnel and registered with the proper authorities.

Prior to the law enacted last week, the definition of lubricant oils was unclear. “The category of lubricant oil in the Recycling Law [was] different from the others, due to something very simple,” Verdejo was quoted as saying in local news reports. “It is a liquid … It [could not] be individualized like a battery, a cell phone or a tire or a bottle. In addition, the [producers] of this priority product [had] no guild.”

The consortium has eight members, all lubricant players, and helped shape the law in meetings with officials from several government ministries. The country’s lubricant industry, Verdejo said, is different than that of the other priority products industries, given the complexity of the sector. In Chile there are approximately 70 lubricant brands used for different markets.

Since industrial usage of lubricants is high and spread across multiple industries in Chile, CELA financed a public service campaign aimed at assisting companies in understanding how to improve their recycling process. Verdejo predicted that it will be most difficult for producers to fulfill their responsibilities for recovering used lubes in industries that rely on transportation. He estimated that Chile has about 20,000 companies that operate trucks and that 80 percent of them have 10 or more. In lubricant workshops there is a disaster because they have all the brands and all the formats, he said. It is impossible for the producing company to recognize its oil, which in general the other priority products can do.

Currently, most of Chile’s industrial and municipal waste ends up in landfills, according to the country’s Environment Ministry. The law states fines can be imposed if the new rules are not followed, but doesn’t set monetary amounts.