The white meat industry is part of Chile Conscious Origin, a program that encourages its certified companies to collect, recover, and trace their waste according to the Extended Producer Responsibility Act.

Chilean producers are responsible for coordinating and financing their waste management according to Law 20,920 on Waste Management, Extended Producer Responsibility, and Recycling Promotion (the “REP Act”). To move forward, the Ministry of the Environment prioritized collection and recovery goals for the following products during a first stage: lubricant oils, electrical and electronic equipment, containers and packaging, tires, and batteries.

The regulation sets two relevant milestones for the industry this year: first, companies must choose and join a collective waste management system by July, which will help them declare and manage their containers and packaging. And by September, producers must join the Pollutant Release and Transfer Register and provide any information requested in accordance with the regulations.

“The REP Act promotes a development model where waste becomes a valuable resource that goes back to the production chain as raw material or energy and thus takes us from a linear to a circular economy. The industry understands and promotes this system we have been working on for several years, especially since we joined Chile Conscious Origin and set management and measurement standards,” said ChileCarne’s Sustainability Manager, Daniela Álvarez.

Various requirements of Chile Conscious Origin’s sustainability protocol are based on circular economy and waste reuse and management. Thus, the companies that join the program to obtain its certification must ensure the separation of production process waste from household waste; comply with triple rinse and take pesticide containers to authorized storing centers for their valuation; and implement reduction, reuse, and/or recycling systems for farm-produced waste.

“I would say we have a long way to go to reach a circular economy. Most companies are aware of and involved in the changes from the Recycling Act, but when talking about circular economy, we cannot forget one of the 3 Rs: reuse. Our intention is to re-incorporate these materials into the life cycle. Some materials have an eternal life; they can be recycled and incorporated infinite times just as the circular economy model states: keep materials circulating for as long as possible,” comments Antonia Biggs, General Manager of the National Recycling Industry Association.

For the food production industry to comply with the REP Act, coordination with various entities, grassroots recyclers, and even end consumers is key given the role they all play in the process. The National Recycling Industry Association brings together 52 companies involved in the sustainable chain, with members that provide solutions via services, logistics, or waste treatment. The REP Act also means new opportunities for grassroots recyclers by explicitly including them in the regulation to formalize their work and include them in the recycling industrial chain. According to the law, those who comply with the required formalization process can be directly contracted by the management systems, without the need to go through a public tender process.

The REP Act has also set various recycling goals for 2023: 3% for plastics, 5% for paper and cardboard, 5% for Tetra Pak packages, 6% for metal, and 11% for glass. These goals will go up over time, with a recycling goal by 2036 of 45% for plastic, 70% for paper and cardboard, 60% for Tetra Pak packages, 55% for metal, and 65% for glass. In general terms, by 2036 the expectation is to recover and value 60% of post-consumer containers and packaging and 70% of industrial.

According to the Second Study on Plastic Recycling in Chile published in late 2021, of the 970,000 tons of plastic used in Chile in 2020, 92,716 tons were recycled, 9.6% of the total consumed. It should be noted that in 2018, 83,679 tons (8.5%) were recycled, meaning there was a 11% increase in 2020.