Decision No. 076/2018/C by the Board of Directors of the Environmental Agency of the State of São Paulo (Cetesb), which conditions the issuance or renewal of environmental licenses on the structuring and implementation of reverse logistics systems, accordance with the procedures set forth in the rule, will enter into force on June 4th.

The National Solid Waste Policy, instituted by Law No. 12305/2010, established shared responsibility for the product life cycle, thus defined: "A set of individualized and linked attributions of manufacturers, importers, distributors and traders, consumers, and owners of public urban sanitation and solid waste management services to minimize the volume of solid wastes and rejects generated, as well as to reduce the impacts resulting from the product life cycle on human health and environmental quality."

The idea of ​​sharing responsibility for the management of solid waste to ensure its proper disposal was already introduced by São Paulo’s state legislation. In Article 5, item IV, of Law No. 12,300/2006 (establishing the State Policy on Solid Waste), shared waste management is understood as the "way of designing, implementing, and managing waste systems, with the participation of the sectors of society with the perspective of sustainable development." In this sense, Decree No. 54,645/2009 establishes that solid waste management is the "set of linked and articulated actions applied to the processes of segregation, collection, characterization, classification, manipulation, packaging, transportation, storage, recovery, reuse, recycling, treatment, and final disposal of solid waste."

It is within this set of individualized and linked assignments that reverse logistics is being implemented, defined by law as an “instrument of economic and social development characterized by a set of actions, procedures, and means to enable the collection and restitution of solid wastes from the business sector for reuse in its cycle or in other productive cycles, or another appropriate final environmental destination”.

According to article 33 of Law No. 12,305/2010, the manufacturers, importers, distributors, and dealers of agrochemicals; batteries; tires; lubricating oils; fluorescent lamps, sodium and mercury vapor and mixed lights; and electrical and electronic products should perform independently, that is, without mandate by the public service of urban cleaning and solid waste management, the structuring and implementation of the reverse logistics system after the product returns from the consumer.

According to article 15 of Decree No. 7,404/2010, which regulates the issue, there are three ways in which reverse logistics systems can be implemented and operationalized: (i) sectoral agreements, which are acts of a contractual nature signed among the Government and manufacturers, importers, or traders; (ii) regulations issued by the Government, which should be preceded by public consultation; or (iii) terms of commitment entered into by the Government with the manufacturers, importers, or distributors.

In view of the importance of reverse logistics systems for the effective management of solid waste, Cetesb established, through Board Decision No. 076/2018/C, that its structuring and implementation is a conditional factor for environmental licensing carried out by the agency. The measure complies with SMA Resolution No. 45/2015, which defines the guidelines for implementing and operationalizing post-consumer responsibility in the state of São Paulo.

Producers or persons responsible for the importation, distribution, or commercialization of products that, after consumption, result in wastes considered of significant environmental impact will be subject to the procedure; whose packaging is considered to have a significant environmental impact or compose the dry fraction of municipal solid waste or equivalent, according to the list of products and packaging marketed in the state of São Paulo, contained in Article 2, sole paragraph of SMA Resolution No. 45/2015, and wall paints, provided that the project is subject to the ordinary environmental licensing of Cetesb.

In its decision, Cetesb defined manufacturers as "the holders of the brands of the products, those who carry out the packaging, assembly, or manufacture of the products." But those who do not fit within the classification of manufacturer should ensure that the product is placed within a reverse logistics system.

Information on the structuring and implementation of the system should be provided by means of registration, a Logistics Plan, and operational results of the enterprise, an Annual Report. The forms for meeting the two requirements will be available in the Reverse Logistics Module of the State System for On-line Management of Solid Waste (Sigor), which will be made available by Cetesb.

The information will be given in a gradual manner, divided between the stages of structuring, implementation, and operation, each one having specific cut-offs and goals for the enterprise. Decision No. 076/2018/C regulates the first stage, with a duration scheduled until December 31, 2021.

Finally, the decision provides for gradual adaptation to the procedure and establishes minimum levels ​that should be reached in solid waste management by the end of 2021. The final goal, however, is that reverse logistics systems implemented in the state of São Paulo have an environmentally appropriate destination for 100% of the post-consumer products or packaging received in their systems.