Environmental law
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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.

Bill on solid waste management
Desechos sólidos

Desechos sólidos

The lower chamber of Congress of the Dominican Republic began the process of public consultation for a bill designated as the «Law on Solid Waste Management», which aims to prevent waste generation and promoting its reduction, management and recycling; establishing a legal framework for its application activities, processes and operations starting from waste generation up to its reuse and final disposal.

The ultimate goal of the project is to have a minimum amount of solid waste reach its final disposal; i. e., that ‘zero waste’ is achieved in the arrangement or end use of any product; all as a result of the implementation of different actions –which shall vary by industry and business sector–, which promote zero waste production, its minimum production or the reuse or recovery thereof. (more…)

Environmental and safety audits: a control mechanism for good practices

An audit is a mechanism to verify whether a company, project, or process is obtaining the desired benefits, by analyzing organizational situations, regulation compliance, and analysis of the efficiency and effectiveness of the processes applied. Environment, health and safety is one of the areas where in recent years various audit systems have been implemented.

The so-called environmental audits consist of a methodological examination of the processes of a company or industry in order to know the conditions of pollution and risk under which they operate. Similarly, this test allows assessing compliance with legal norms, not regulated aspects, and those aspects that define good practices in engineering. They are run primarily on organizations that have designed a management system based on international standards or on their own, such as ISO14001 and OHSAS 18001.

These processes play a fundamental role in the management of enterprises, since they establish control mechanisms that allow demonstrating the continuous improvement of processes, and add value to the management system being developed.

To properly conduct an environmental audit process, the following steps are recommended:

  • Clearly state the purpose and scope of the audit
  • Set time limits previously
  • Define the audit plan
  • Determine the legal requirements to comply with
  • Resolve any eventuality that may arise during the audit
  • Communicate the results to stakeholders.

The audit, as a first phase, gives way to a second, called Post-audit. This consists of establishing the compliance agreement for the specified corrections pointed out, devise a plan of action for this purpose – defining monitoring procedures – and then delivering the corresponding certificate to the audited entity.