Environmental law
Request a consultation: (809) 338-4200

Entradas en "Environmental conflicts"

Dominican Beaches: Current State and Sustainability

The degradation of the environmental quality of Dominican beaches has surfaced far more frequently than expected in the country’s tourism hotspots. Tourism and hotel operators are monitoring with concern the many changes in local beaches, especially in the coastal-marine structure, with results that can negatively impact the sustainability of the tourism business. (more…)

Air Pollution in the Dominican Republic

Anthropogenic air pollution began when humans discovered and domesticated natural fire. Even though much has happened since then, we have not evolved at the appropriate level to minimize negative effects or reduce emissions of air polluting agents, which results in a low quality of the air we breathe.. (more…)

Solid Waste Management in the Dominican Republic

The Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources of the Dominican Republic issued Resolution No.1 of 2015, which established the Procedure for the Recovery of Recyclable Multi-materials with commercial value and which determines the obligation to segregate at the source the various types of waste resulting from extraction activities, processing of raw materials and consumption of goods and services.

Since its enactment in January 2015, all business entities, intermediaries, end users and the general public must initiate proper management of solid waste by separating the same into two blue containers and/or bags, one for inorganic and/or waste materials such as paper, plastic, cardboard, glass and metals and the other for the rest of the waste, such as kitchen and food waste, garden residue, among others.

The purpose of this norm is simply to promote the reuse of solid waste, which may be repurposed, thus avoiding the final disposition thereof in the country´s landfills. It also provides for separate recollection by the municipalities; and thus the latter are no longer allowed mixing multi-materials with the remaining waste so as to facilitate its recycling. Companies contracted by the municipalities, informal garbage diggers and intermediaries may also perform the separate waste recollection.

Regarding transportation, the approved procedure provides that once the waste is collected in a segregated manner, it is to be transported to an intermediate point, designated as a «clean or intermediate encounter point», for the treatment and management of solid waste or directly to the recycling company.

Assessment on how municipalities could implement this procedure for the selective collection of solid waste is outstanding. Indeed, deciding to undertake this major change in the field of solid waste management has been the challenge of cities in other parts of the world and their municipalities or councils. Although not explicitly established by the regulation, it is expected that the shift in paradigms will require the following:

  • Establishment of a period of time to adapt collection vehicles;
  • Renegotiation of contracts with solid waste collection enterprises;
  • Making agreements with recycling cooperatives for their incorporation to the management of waste;
  • Determining pre-established days for the collection of different types of waste –for example Tuesdays and Thursdays for recycling materials, and other days for organic waste–;
  • An awareness and information campaign by sector on solid waste management;
  • Imposition of sanctions upon infringement.

Until these issues are not defined, the implementation of the new system of selective collection may become more complex than expected.

Is sustainable mining possible?

It is well known that mining operations alter and modify the environment where they take place. At the primary level and within the effects that can be generated are those that affect the environment:

  • Negative effects on biodiversity
  • Impact on water sources
  • Subsurface infiltration
  • Noise and vibrations
  • Emission of particles that affect air quality

In addition, mismanaged mining can have an impact on nearby communities, causing problems such as:

  • Changes in the social dynamics of populations
  • Migrations
  • Increased accident rates
  • Community conflicts
  • Damage to public infrastructure

Given this situation the question then arises: is it possible to exert mining that is environmentally responsible and at the same time productive and profitable? The answer is yes. There is a way to do things correctly. It starts with the application of international standards and best practices for mining that are committed to the development of communities and the environment.

These best practices are defined by ECLAC as those that “take into consideration models for management improvement, environmental and social management and performance of productive sectors, from experience and replicable success stories, taking into account the nature and specific conditions of each activity and its surroundings“. Best practices are based on a number of instruments and standards. Some of them are:

  • UN Global Compact’s principles No. 7, 8  and 9

  • Global Reporting Initiative’s (GRI) standards

  • International Council on Mining and Metals’ (ICMM) principles

  • World Bank standards

  • IFC Guides and Ecuador principles

  • ISO 14000 environmental standards

  • The AA1000 norm

The ultimate goal of these guidelines is to control, minimize and / or compensate for impacts on the environment and communities. Similarly, they lead to sound management of natural resources and ensure compliance with national laws and regulations.

The benefit to companies operating mines is significant because these best practices translate into cost efficiency, reduction in future risks and environmental and social liabilities, resulting ultimately in a good corporate image and reputation.

In short, sustainable mining is possible. For companies engaged in the extraction of minerals it is essential to seek proper advice in the abovementioned standards, in order to maintain a balance among the different entities involved or affected in the mining context.