Mexico City, January 19th, 2021.
On January 18th, 2021, the following decrees were published in the Federal Official Gazette:
a) Decree by which various provisions of the General Law of Ecological Balance and Environmental Protection are amended and added, hereinafter “LGEEPA Reform Decree”.
b) Decree by which various provisions are amended and added to the General Law for the Prevention and Comprehensive Management of Waste in matters of waste co-processing, hereinafter «LGPGIR Reform Decree».
Both decrees will become effective today, January 19th, 2021.
A. LGEEPA Reform Decree.
The LGEEPA Reform Decree incorporates provisions on Light Pollution for its prevention, reduction, and control.
Light Pollution is to be considered as the luminous glow in night environments or the brightness produced by the diffusion and reflection of light in gases, aerosols and suspended particles in the atmosphere, which alters the natural conditions of luminosity at night and makes astronomical observations of the celestial objects, due to Intrusive Light, having to distinguish the natural brightness, attributable to the radiation of sources or celestial objects and to the luminescence of the upper layers of the atmosphere.
Intrusive Light is to be considered as the part of the light in an installation with a light source that does not fulfil the function for which it was designed and does not prevent Light Pollution.
Intrusive Light includes:
- Light that falls improperly outside the area that is to be illuminated;
- Stray light in the vicinity of the lighting installation;
- The luminescence of the sky, that is, the illumination of the night sky that results from the direct and indirect reflection of visible and invisible radiation, scattered by the constituents of the atmosphere, gas molecules, aerosols, and particles in the direction of observation;
- The diffuse light that is scattered in the vicinity of the artificial light source, and
- The light that is projected in various directions outside the land area to be illuminated.
In accordance with the LGEEPA Reforms Decree, the following authorities shall be competent:
a) The Federation, through the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources («SEMARNAT» for its acronym in Spanish), to regulate the prevention of environmental pollution caused by noise, vibrations, thermal energy, Intrusive Light, electromagnetic radiation, and odours harmful to ecological balance and the environment.
b) The States, through the local Environmental Ministries, to prevent and control the pollution generated by the emission of noise, vibrations, thermal energy, Intrusive Light, electromagnetic radiation and odours harmful to ecological balance or the environment, coming from fixed sources that function as industrial establishments, as well as, where appropriate, mobile sources that, in accordance with the provisions of the General Law of Ecological Balance and Environmental Protection (“LGEEPA” for its acronym in Spanish), do not fall under federal jurisdiction.
c) The Municipalities, to apply the legal provisions relating to the prevention and control of pollution by noise, vibrations, thermal energy, Intrusive Light, electromagnetic radiation and odours harmful to ecological balance and the environment, from fixed sources that function as commercial or service establishments, as well as the monitoring of compliance with the provisions that, where appropriate, are applicable to mobile sources except those that, according to the LGEEPA, are considered under federal jurisdiction.
d) The States with the participation, where appropriate, of their Municipalities or territorial demarcations of Mexico City, prior coordination accord or agreement signed with SEMARNAT; to prevent and control environmental pollution caused by noise, vibrations, thermal energy , Intrusive Light, electromagnetic radiation and odours harmful to ecological balance and the environment, coming from fixed and mobile sources of federal jurisdiction and, where appropriate, to issue the corresponding authorizations.
As per the LGEEPA Reform Decree, emissions of noise, vibrations, thermal energy, Intrusive Light, and the generation of visual pollution will be prohibited, if they exceed the maximum limits established in the Official Mexican Standards issued by SEMARNAT for that purpose.
The maximum limits for noise emissions, vibrations, thermal energy, Intrusive Light and the generation of visual pollution will be established taking into consideration the maximum permissible concentration of pollutants for humans in the environment determined by the Ministry of Health.
The federal or local authorities, according to their sphere of competence, will adopt measures to prevent these limits from being transgressed and, where appropriate, will apply the corresponding sanctions.
In the construction of works or facilities that generate thermal energy, Intrusive Light, noise, or vibrations, as well as in the operation or functioning of existing works or facilities, preventive and corrective actions must be carried out to avoid the harmful effects of such pollutants in the ecological balance and the environment.
SEMARNAT must issue, within a period that will not exceed 12 months, counted from January 19, 2021 [January 19th, 2022]; the Mexican Official Standard that will establish the maximum emission limits regulated by the Decree.
B. LGPGIR Reform Decree.
The LGPGIR Reform Decree incorporates provisions on waste co-processing.
It will be understood by:
a) Thermovaluation, to the use of organic waste for the generation of electricity.
b) Sterilization Treatments, to the procedures that allow, by means of thermal radiation, the death or inactivation of the infectious agents contained in hazardous waste.
c) Valorisation, to the beginning and collection of associated actions whose objective is to recover the remaining value or the calorific value of the materials that make up the waste, through their reincorporation in production processes, under criteria of shared responsibility, comprehensive management, and environmental, technological, and economic efficiency.
d) Vulnerability, the set of conditions that limit the defence or buffer capacity in the face of a threating situation and confer on human populations, ecosystems and goods, a high degree of susceptibility to the adverse effects that the handling of materials or waste can cause, which, due to its volumes and intrinsic characteristics, can cause damage to the environment.
The activities of co-processing and incineration of waste will be restricted to the conditions that are to be established in the Regulations of the General Law for the Prevention and Comprehensive Management of Waste (“LGPGIR”) and in the corresponding Mexican Official Standards.
The LGPGIR Regulations and the Mexican Official Standards must:
a) Establish the degrees of efficiency and effectiveness that the processes must achieve, and the environmental parameters that must be met to verify the prevention or reduction of the release into the environment of polluting substances, particularly those that are toxic.
b) Include the specifications regarding the analytical characterization of the wastes susceptible to co-processing, as well as to incineration and the resulting ashes.
c) Include the specifications regarding the periodic monitoring of all emissions subject to Mexican Official Standards, the costs of which will be assumed by those responsible of the co-processing or incineration facilities.
To carry out the co-processing of waste, the waste management hierarchy determined by SEMARNAT must be followed, and the best available techniques must be considered for reasons of technical viability, economic viability, or environmental protection.
If the waste is not capable of being reused or recycled, but is suitable for co-processing in industrial production processes, according to the provisions of the LGPGIR Regulations and the applicable Mexican Official Standards; said co-processing may be considered part of the industrial production process itself, without prejudice to the applicable provisions set forth in the Quality Infrastructure Law.
Within a period of no more than 180 days from the entry into force of the LGPGIR Reforms Decree [July 19th, 2021], the legislatures of the States and Mexico City must adapt the corresponding local laws so that they conform to the provisions of said decree.
SEMARNAT, within a period that will not exceed 365 calendar days from the entry into force of the LGPGIR Reforms Decree [January 19th, 2022], will issue the amendments to the LGPGIR Regulations, as well as the corresponding Mexican Official Standards, that are to establish the provisions that restrict and regulate the activities of co-processing and incineration of waste.
SEMARNAT will consider the obligations of the companies that carry out co-processing activities, as well as incineration activities, in matters of record of emissions, transfer of pollutants and record of greenhouse effect compounds and gases, established in the LGEEPA and its regulations and in the General Law on Climate Change and its Regulations regarding the National Registry of Emissions; to publish, on its website and other means of communication that it deems pertinent, during the first 10 days of December of each year, the regulated emissions produced by the companies that carry out in an ,authorized manner and in accordance with the provisions of the LGPGIR and the LGPGIR Reform Decree; hazardous waste co-processing activities, as well as incineration activities.
The lawyers of our Environmental Law, National Waters and Climate Change practice group remain at your service to clarify any query you may have over this topic.
S I N C E R E L Y,
Daniel Del Río