Chapter 7. Management of waste and chemicals

This chapter discusses major developments in waste management, including the development of waste management plans at different scales. It reviews the state of production, collection and disposal of waste and discusses related information measures (or lack thereof). It presents regulatory frameworks for municipal, industrial and hazardous waste management. The chapter also presents trends in the use of chemicals and points to the lack of specific policies and plans for chemicals. It reviews the chemicals risk management policy and import measures. Finally, it discusses mercury releases from small-scale mining.


Key findings and recommendations

Solid waste management

Peru’s daily per capita generation of waste, at 0.58 kg, is low compared to other countries. The infrastructure in place for the disposal of domestic wastes is, however, inadequate. According to available information, there are currently only 11 supervised sanitary landfills, four of which are located in the city of Lima. This is clearly inadequate to handle the volume of wastes in the country, and produces a situation where 46.2% of wastes are not properly dealt with, being disposed of instead in unsupervised dumps or by uncontrolled incineration, or even thrown into rivers or the sea. There are major differences among regions with respect to the infrastructure available for final disposal of wastes and the availability of municipal trash collection services. These shortcomings can be explained to some extent by the high rate of municipal tax arrears, which denies municipalities the revenues needed to collect and process wastes.

An important step has been taken with the implementation of the solid waste management information system (SIGERSOL). Since 2009, municipalities have been required to report data on waste generation and management, for inclusion in this system. Prior to that, information came from the solid waste management plans (PIGARS). In 2007, the available information came from the 51 PIGARS reported for that year, a number that rose to 55 in 2008 and to 58 in 2009, when it was supplemented by information from the 246 districts that reported to SIGERSOL. The number of districts reporting to SIGERSOL increased to 251 in 2010, 447 in 2011, 664 in 2012, and 666 in 2013. In November 2015 Peru had 1 857 reporting districts, but this still represented sparse coverage. The lack of information is a more acute problem when it comes to the generation and management of non-municipal wastes, including hazardous wastes.

The legal framework for waste management is comprehensive and lays the basis for the national policy in this area. The General Solid Wastes Act (Law No. 27314-2000 and its amendments) and the regulations to the law (Reg. 057-2004-PCM) seek to ensure proper management and handling of wastes, both municipal and non-municipal, in ways that will prevent health risks and protect and promote environmental quality, health and well-being. The law makes the provincial municipalities responsible for managing solid wastes of domestic and commercial origin, and similar wastes from other activities. On the other hand, the district municipalities are responsible for the collection and transportation of these solid wastes, as well as for the cleaning of streets and public spaces and monuments. The law also provides that all solid wastes must be conveyed directly to the treatment plant, or to the final disposal site designated by the provincial municipality. This obligation today goes widely unobserved. In addition to this generic rule, there is a law regulating the activity of recyclers (Law No. 29419-2009) and its regulations (DS 005-2010-MINAM), designed to promote the protection, training, social and vocational development of recyclers, and to encourage them to form associations and formalise their work.

In the case of non-municipal wastes, the sector authorities are responsible for enforcing the General Act, the Regulations and other standards. The sectors covered here include manufacturing, agriculture, agro-industry and construction. In this context, specific regulations have been recently approved, such as those governing the management and handling of wastes from construction and demolition activities (DS 003-2013-VIVIENDA), and there is a specific standard for wastes from electric and electronic devices, whereby liability extends to the manufacturers of these products. There is also a specific standard regulating the production, storage, packaging, transport and transit of hazardous wastes, as well as their management and final disposal.

The Ministry of the Environment is responsible for adapting the National Solid Waste Policy and for promoting the preparation and application of comprehensive solid waste management plans (PIGARS) and the solid waste handling plans (PMRS) at the provincial and district levels. Despite the obligation to prepare such plans at the regional and local levels, only a small percentage of districts nationwide have these management tools in place at the present time.

A number of steps have been taken to improve waste management in Peru. The Ministry of the Environment has launched a series of programmes and investment projects that include various aspects of comprehensive waste management. Highly positive initiatives undertaken in recent years include the Municipal Modernization Programme (PMM) (in conjunction with the Ministry of Economy and Finance), the Segregation-at-Source Programme, and the Programme for Formalization of Recyclers. The Segregation-at-Source Programme, which involves the selective collection of solid wastes from urban dwellings across the country and was launched in 2011, should be accompanied by incentives and expanded to embrace more regions and municipalities.

The specific legislation governing comprehensive management of solid wastes at the national level dates from 15 years ago, and the Ministry of the Environment is working to revise and update that legislation. Meanwhile, the National Environmental Action Plan (PLANAA 2011-2021) made it a priority target for 2021 to have 100% of municipal solid wastes managed, recycled and disposed of properly. In addition it calls for the following: (a) 100% of reusable solid wastes to be recycled; (b) a 20% reduction in the generation of hazardous wastes in relation to the baseline; (c) 100% of hazardous wastes to be properly treated and disposed of in appropriate facilities; and (d) 100% of electrical and electronic waste to be recycled and disposed of properly. These are ambitious goals that will be difficult to meet without the necessary investments, better information and co-ordination among the sectors, and further assistance to local and regional governments.

Chemicals management

The use of chemical substances in Peru has expanded significantly in recent years, owing primarily to imports linked to growth in certain industries such as pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and bottle manufacturing, although information is available only for those chemicals included in a specific tariff line. Domestic production of chemicals has risen slightly from the levels observed between 2007 and 2012.

Peru currently has no unified system for recording data on imported products and substances that are not included in a specific tariff line, and there is room for improvement in this area. For some time now the government has been implementing a Pollutant Release and Transfer Register (Registro de Emisiones y Transferencia de Contaminantes, RETC), which will provide better information for managing chemical substances.

Peru’s National Environmental Policy is the primary framework for managing chemical substances and hazardous materials, and is of compulsory observance by all economic sectors. It establishes six policy guidelines that promote the life-cycle approach, with a view to reducing the risks associated with final disposal and highlighting the need to communicate the risks associated with each stage of that cycle. It also stresses the dissemination of good practices in the handling of chemical substances, and consideration of health criteria and the protection of fragile ecosystems in the process of formulating contingency plans for the use and management of those substances. These two management approaches —life-cycle and risk-based— are spelled out in the National Environmental Health Policy 2011-2020 and in the National Disaster Risk Management Policy, respectively. More specifically, Peru has adopted the following instruments on chemical substances management: the General Health Act (Law 26.842/1997), the General Law on the Environment (Law 28.611/2005), and Decree Law 1.059 approving the General Law on Agricultural Health of 2008. These laws make it possible to classify hazardous substances and products, to limit their toxicity and their harmful effects on health, to hold firms accountable for exercising effective control over hazardous materials and substances inherent to their activities, in this way controlling the negative environmental impacts they may generate, and to manage agricultural inputs such as chemical pesticides that can have harmful effects on natural resources and on the environment in general. It is important to note that Peru does not have a chemical substances management policy as such: rather, this is governed by policies of a general nature that incorporate some form of chemical substances management, primarily from a risk perspective. This approach is less effective in terms of the environmental management of such substances, as there is no specific action plan.

Peruvian legislation governs the management of chemical substances through their use, and this poses a challenge for effective co-ordination among the authorities. This situation complicates the subsequent implementation of the objectives pursued in the strategic instruments, and the plethora of objectives and targets in each sector ultimately results in less effective and more bureaucratic management. As for pesticides, these are classified in terms of agricultural, industrial or domestic use, or public health protection. In the agricultural area, the tightest restriction applies to the persistent organic pollutants covered by the Stockholm Convention, as well as other pesticides recognised internationally as hazardous. In the industrial sector, there is a regulation governing substances that deplete the ozone layer, which was adopted in the context of the Vienna Convention and the Montreal Protocol.

Supreme Decree DS 015-2005-SA establishes allowable limits of exposure to chemical agents in the workplace, and those limits can be updated and new chemical substances added in light of scientific and technological progress. The provision regulates chemical substances only and not their blends, which complicates their monitoring and control. While formal businesses have instruments such as contingency plans and workplace safety systems for preventing and responding to chemical accidents, informal businesses present greater risks, and the resulting lack of information may impede response by the emergency services (fire brigades and police). With the adoption of environmental measures in the principal markets (especially the European Union) that export hazardous or controlled chemical substances to Peru, it is becoming common practice to apply for a health authorisation to import chemical substances. It would be very useful to supplement this action with control infrastructure in the ports, and communication with the authorities involved.

Emissions and releases of mercury from small-scale mining activity constitute the main national concern with respect to this substance, which is difficult to regulate and may moreover be linked to illicit activities. Peru has developed a strategy for rationalising small-scale and artisanal mining, and one of its priority targets for 2016 is to reduce the use of mercury in mining operations, with special measures for small-scale gold extraction and processing activities.


Waste management

  • Create a propitious climate for attracting investment in infrastructure for the proper management of municipal solid waste, including its final treatment (controlled landfills) and facilities to allow the recovery of reusable waste, including compostable materials for organic fractionation. Continue with the plan of State incentives for improved management and modernisation as a temporary measure towards the full enforcement of the user pays principle. Ensure adequate investment in infrastructure for the treatment of hazardous wastes and their proper final disposal (including secure deposits). Take action to identify, close and reclaim the sites of illegal and abandoned dumps, treating them formally as contaminated sites.

  • Maintain Peru’s low rate of per capita waste generation by promoting activities to raise public awareness about reducing waste, at-origin separation, reuse of materials, recycling, and so forth. Provide education and training for managers of local entities to improve knowledge about solid waste management.

  • Design user fees that cover the real total cost of providing municipal waste collection, transportation, treatment and final disposal services, including observation of the internalised costs or polluter pays principle (e.g. by progressing towards user fees based on the amount and toxicity of domestic waste). Design mechanisms to ensure these fees are collected, while address matters of affordability (e.g. discounting a part of the cost of their monthly waste generation from the beneficiaries of social assistance programmes).

  • Ensure that the institutions responsible for managing non-municipal waste, chiefly industrial and hazardous wastes, liaise with the Ministry of the Environment to co-ordinate their management policies, thereby giving environmental considerations a stronger presence in regulatory policies.

  • Improve the available information on the generation and management of non-municipal waste and its traceability. This includes construction and electronic wastes and, in particular, hazardous industrial wastes. Increase the level of reporting to the Ministry of the Environment of the agencies responsible for the management of sectoral waste.

Chemicals management

  • Enhance the regulatory framework to improve the handling of chemicals throughout their life-cycle. Assess the usefulness of creating specific instruments for chemicals management, including combinations of chemicals, with a preventive approach and tied in with risk management, and with an action plan that includes specific measures and timeframes. Strengthen oversight activities and links between the services in charge of contingency plans in the event of accidents and emergencies.

  • Review the effectiveness and efficiency of the institutional arrangements for managing risks related to the use of chemical substances, including co-ordination mechanisms. In the area of activity licences, establish an information system that provides guidelines for new chemicals industry facilities, with a focus on preventing and managing risks and accidents. Strengthen co-ordination between the agriculture and health sectors to improve oversight of pesticide use.

  • Increase the human and financial resources of the public services responsible for chemicals management, chiefly in the areas of the environment, health and agriculture, in order to implement a qualified and effective institutional framework for the implementation of regulations and actions to minimise risks in the handling of chemical substances, including the protection of workers’ health.

  • Devise a single, consolidated system for recording information on imported hazardous chemical products and substances that are not included in a tariff line, expanding the identification and registration criteria, creating new lines for new products, identifying their countries of origin and including locator maps of those companies involved in importing and marketing the products and substances so identified.

  • Improve the port control infrastructure for the proper management and oversight of imported goods, facilitating inspections and compliance with the regulations in order to prevent environmental and health risks.

1. Solid waste management

1.1. Legal and institutional framework

Legal instruments

Solid-waste management activities and the establishment of the respective legal framework are relatively recent in Peru (Table 7.1). A document produced jointly by the General Directorate of Environmental Health and the Pan-American Health Organization (DIGESA/PAHO, 1998), which made a sectoral analysis of solid waste in Peru, was the first step towards managing solid waste correctly from the health and environmental standpoints (MINAM, 2012a; Office of the Ombudsman, 2007). In 2000, the General Law on Solid Wastes was approved (Law 27.314 and subsequent amendments), which, along with the respective Supreme Decree (057-2004-PCM), laid the foundations for a national policy on the subject. These legal instruments aim to ensure proper management and handling of waste materials, both municipal and non-municipal, in ways that will prevent health risks and will protect and enhance environmental quality, health and personal well-being. Following the promulgation of this law, steps were taken to formulate comprehensive solid waste management plans (PIGARS).

The national survey performed as part of the Regional Evaluation of Waste Management Services (2002), undertaken by the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO, 2003), is one of the key reports highlighting the critical situation prevailing in Peru in terms of solid waste management at the start of this century. Nonetheless, its conclusions referred exclusively to the large cities, which at that time accounted for less than one third of the population. The National Solid Waste Management Plan approved through Executive Board Decree 004-2005-CONAM/CD, was based on this report.

Table 7.1. Regulations governing the management and handling of solid waste

Year of approval


Publication date


Legislative Decree 635, Penal Code

8 April 1991


Legislative Decree 757, Framework Law for Private Investment Growth

10 November 1991


Political Constitution of Peru

30 December 1993


General Health Act (Law 28.842)

15 July 1997


General Law on Solid Waste (Law 27.314)

21 July 2000


Law of the National System of Environmental Impact Assessment (Law 27.446)

23 April 2001


Organic Law of Municipalities (Law 27.972)

27 May 2003


Framework Law of the National Environmental Management System (Law 28.245)

8 June 2004


Law Regulating Land Transport of Hazardous Waste and Materials (Law 28.256)

18 June 2004


Supreme Decree 057-2004-PCM, approving the regulations to the General Law on Solid Waste

24 July 2004


General Law on the Environment (Law 2.861)

15 October 2005


Legislative Resolution 28.766, approving the Peru-United States Trade Promotion Agreement

29 June 2006


Legislative Decree 1.013, approving the Law creating the Ministry of Environment and establishing its organisation and functions

14 May 2008


Supreme Decree 021-2008-MTC, approving the National Regulation on Land Transport of Hazardous Waste and Materials

10 June 2008


Legislative Decree 1.065 amending Law 27.314, the General Law on Solid Waste

28 June 2008


Law 29.263, amending several articles of the Penal Code and the General Law on the Environment.

2 October 2008


Supreme Decree 012-2009-MINAM, approving the National Environment Policy

23 May 2009


Supreme Decree 019-2009-MINAM, approving the regulations to the Law on the National System of Environmental Impact Assessment (SEIA)

25 September 2009


Law regulating the activity of recyclers (Law 29.410)

7 October 2009


Supreme Decree 005-2010-MINAM, approving the regulation to the Law regulating the activity of recyclers (Law 29.410)

3 June 2010


Supreme Decree 001-2012-MINAM, approving the National Regulation for the Management and Handling of Electrical and Electronic Equipment Waste

27 June 2012


Health Technical Standard 096-MINSA/DIGESA on the management and handling of solid waste in health establishments and ancillary medical services

July 2012


Law 1.549-2012 strengthening the institutionalisation of the National Policy on Environmental Education and its effective incorporation in territorial development

November 2012


Supreme Decree 016-2012-AG, approving Regulations on the Handling of Solid Waste Generated in the Agricultural Sector

November 2012


Directorial Resolution 007-2013-EF/63.01 General Guide for Identification, Formulation and Social Evaluation of Public Investment Projects at the Profile Level

31 October 2013


Supreme Decree 003-2013-VIVIENDA, approving regulations for the management and handling of wastes from construction and demolition activities

8 February2013


Supreme Decree 002-2013-MINAM, Approving Environmental Quality Standards (ECA) for Soil

25 March 2013

Source: prepared by the authors on the basis of MINAM (2012a) and MINAM (2014b).

One of the milestones in this domain during the period analysed was the publication of the National Environment Policy (Supreme Decree 012-2009-MINAM). Policy pillar 2, on integrated environmental quality management, addresses the issue of solid waste through nine guidelines, but does not set any specific targets.

Subsequently, the National Environmental Action Plan (PLANAA-PERÚ 2011-2021) made it a priority target for 2021 to have 100% of municipal solid wastes managed, recycled and correctly disposed of. In addition, it called for the following: (a) 100% of reusable solid wastes recycled; (b) a 20% reduction in the generation of hazardous wastes in relation to the baseline; (c) 100% of hazardous wastes properly treated and disposed of in appropriate facilities; and (d) 100% of waste from electrical and electronic devices recycled and adequately disposed of. These ambitious goals reflect MINAM efforts to improve the management of municipal and non-municipal solid wastes; however, it seems unlikely that they will be achieved by 2021. The data available on progress achieved show that whereas the target for 2012 was to recycle 30% of reusable waste, the data supplied by the districts show that just 10.4% was being recycled in 2010 and only 13.8% in 2011. Moreover, although it was intended to provide adequate final disposal for 50% of non-reusable solid wastes, the levels actually attained were 42.7% in 2010 and 37.6% in 2011 (MINAM, 2012c).

In 2009, the activities of recyclers began to be regulated, under Law 29.419 and its statutes (Supreme Decree 005-2010-MINAM). Measures were adopted to promote the protection, training and social and vocational development of recyclers, and to encourage them to form associations and formalise their work, to help improve waste management.

Specific regulation of the handling of non-hazardous waste by non-municipal entities is very recent, since it was only in 2013 that the Regulations for the Management and Handling of Wastes from Construction and Demolition Activities were approved (Supreme Decree 003-2013–VIVIENDA). In 2012, rules applicable to electrical and electronic equipment waste were also approved, establishing extended producer responsibility in respect of this type of product. This regulation is a novelty in Peru, because it requires manufacturers to assume shared and differentiated responsibility, and it advocates comprehensive handling of solid wastes (National Regulation for the Management and Handling of Electrical and Electronic Equipment Waste, Supreme Decree 001-2012-MINAM).

In 2004, the Law Regulating Land Transport of Hazardous Waste and Materials (Law 28.256) was passed. This law also governed production, storage, packaging, transport, and final management and disposal. The National Regulation on Land Transport of Hazardous Waste and Materials (Supreme Decree 021-2008–MTC) also contains provisions on the transport of hazardous wastes, which must observe the principles of prevention and the protection of people, the environment and property.

Since 2009, awareness-raising initiatives have given rise to activities aimed at strengthening environmental management and advocacy capacities, observance of the Inter-American Cleanliness and Citizenship Day, organisation of the biodegradable and recyclable products fair, and public campaigns on the storage and collection of electric and electronic equipment. However, progress in this area remains slow.

In view of the situation described above, there is an urgent need to speed up the review of policy instruments, to set measurable and tangible targets, and make sure their achievement is supported by investments that provide for integrated waste management. The approval of the National Integrated Solid Waste Management Plan – PLANRES 2016-2024 (Ministerial Decision 191-2016-MINAM) thus stands out, as its implementation will make it possible to improve solid waste management in terms of measurable objectives, targets and indicators.

Institutional framework

The management and handling of municipal solid waste, along with the related environmental inspection, involves multiple entities, including the Ministry of the Environment (MINAM), the Agency for Environmental Assessment and Enforcement (OEFA), the General Directorate of Environmental Health (DIGESA) of the Ministry of Health, and local government entities (provincial and district municipalities).

The Ministry of the Environment is responsible for promoting appropriate management of solid waste, pursuant to the National Environmental Management System created under Law 28.245, approving the National Solid Waste Policy, and promoting the formulation and application of integrated environmental management plans (PIGARS) and solid waste management plans (PMRS).

The Agency for Environmental Assessment and Enforcement (OEFA) is the governing body of the National Environmental Assessment and Oversight System (SINEFA); it is also responsible for supervising the municipalities in fulfilling their oversight functions with respect to waste producers.

The General Directorate of Environmental Health (DIGESA) is the technical agency responsible for the normative aspects of basic sanitation, occupational health, food hygiene, control of zoonosis and environmental protection. The Directorate fulfils a variety of functions, including proposing the draft National Environmental Health Policy, enforcing it in different domains, and administering and updating the records of solid waste service providers, solid waste marketing firms, and solid waste supervisors. It also authorises transboundary transport operations involving hazardous waste.

Under Law 28.245, the municipalities are required to promote the correct management and handling of household or commercial solid wastes within their jurisdiction. Consequently, they must prioritise public or public-private investments for the construction, implementation and environmental and sanitary adaptation of the relevant infrastructure. They are also responsible for providing solid waste collection and transport services, and for the cleaning of roads, streets and public spaces and monuments; and they are authorised to enter into service provision contracts with firms registered in DIGESA, which they must regulate and oversee. The legislation also requires all solid waste to be conveyed directly to the treatment and transfer plants, or to the final disposal point designated by the municipality. Although these provisions have been compulsory since 2000, they are largely ignored.

In 2008, Supreme Decree 1065 required all firms to report to the competent authority on the annual handling of non-municipal solid wastes, under a Solid Waste Handling Plan (PMRS). Firms that generate this type of waste are required to handle it according to technical criteria appropriate to the different categories, and to distinguish between hazardous and non-hazardous materials. This regulation applies to the manufacturing, agricultural, agribusiness and construction sectors, among others.

The sectoral authorities are responsible for enforcing the General Law on Solid Wastes, along with the respective regulations and related rules. The entities that generate this type of waste must be regulated, evaluated, overseen, and sanctioned by the ministries and relevant regulatory or inspection bodies. A comparison of data on the number of existing firms and those that reported on the subject shows that a large proportion of them do not report to the competent authority. Information on the handling of solid waste is very inconsistent (section 1.3).

The foregoing shows that responsibilities are dispersed between different ministerial entities, and that the municipalities are overburdened with solid waste management responsibilities that exceed their capacities. It would therefore be advisable to consider expanding inspection powers and increasing resources for awareness-raising among firms, to ensure correct management of solid waste and appropriate presentation of reports on its handling.

International agreements

International agreements in this sphere include the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal, adopted on 22 March 1989, which Peru signed and acceded to in 1993. Under the Convention, all transboundary movements of hazardous waste, either originating in or destined for Peru, must receive prior authorisation. It is also hoped that this will reduce the volume of transboundary waste and ensure that such material undergoes treatment near its place of origin.

The Agency for Environmental Assessment and Enforcement issued a warning that, given the prevailing conditions and inadequate final disposal and incineration of solid waste, Peru was contravening the principles of the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which it had ratified in 2002, in terms of reducing the generation of greenhouse gases (GHGs) such as carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4) (OEFA, 2014a). In this connection, one of the key items of the National Strategy on Climate Change (ENCC) is the proposal to reduce GHG emissions by introducing changes in key areas, including solid waste management. Implementation of the programme to prepare Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs) in the solid waste sector could contribute towards fulfilling international commitments in this domain.1 The programme mainly targets the following: (i) the capture of landfill gas to generate electricity; (ii) the capture of landfill gas by flaring; and (iii) the composting of organic waste separated at source (MINAM/NORDEN, 2013).

As Peru is also a party to the Stockholm Convention, it is required to adopt measures to reduce the unintentional production of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) including dioxins and furans. In addition, OEFA recommended strengthening activities in this area, particularly those related to the reduction of pollutants generated by the burning of municipal and hospital wastes in garbage dumps (OEFA, 2014b).

1.2. Pressures on human health and the environment

The combination of population growth, development patterns in urban zones and production activities has serious effects on human health and the environment, since they increase the production of solid and chemical waste. As the municipalities and districts provide little information on the subject it is hard to assess the situation in 2003-2013 (section 1.3).

Municipal solid wastes

National estimations performed in 2008-2013 indicate that municipal waste production varied between 6 million tonnes and 7 million tonnes per year, over 70% being of household origin (Figure 7.1). The fact that these waste materials grew from 4.2 million tonnes in 2009 to 5 million tonnes in 2013 suggests that they are directly related to per capita GDP growth in the same period (MINAM, 2012a and 2012c).

Figure 7.1. Generation of municipal household waste, 2008-2013
(Thousands of tonnes per year)

Source: Prepared by the authors on the basis of MINAM (2014b).

Waste production per capita averaged 223 kg in 2011, and dropped to 211 kg and 204 kg in 2012 and 2013, respectively (MINAM, 2012c and 2014a). These figures are low compared to the average of OECD member countries, which was 510 kg per capita in 2012 (Figure 7.2).

Figure 7.2. OECD member countries and Peru: generation of municipal waste, 2013
(Kg per capita)

Source: OECD, “Municipal waste”, OECD Environment Statistics (database), 2015 [online]; and MINAM (2012a).

Official extrapolations show that waste production varies across regions and also fluctuates from year to year. On average, the coastal region generated a larger volume in 2010-2013, although in 2012 there was an increase in the rainforest (selva) region (Table 7.2). Lima is the Peruvian city that generates the most household solid waste, with the amount doubling between 2001 and 2014, from 4 097 to 8 014 tonnes per day, to represent over 40% of the national total in the latter year. Estimations made by the municipalities on the basis of the Integrated Solid Waste Environmental Management Plan of the Province of Lima see household waste in the province of Lima growing to 16 000 tonnes per day by 2034 (OEFA, 2014b).

Table 7.2. Generation of household waste by region, 2010-2013



Highlands (sierra)

Rainforest (selva)

















Regional average




Source: Ministry of the Environment (MINAM), Sexto informe nacional de residuos sólidos de la gestión del ámbito municipal y no municipal 2013, Lima, 2014.

Non-municipal solid waste

This category includes solid wastes originating in the hospital, construction, agriculture and manufacturing sectors, and also in special installations or activities such as transport and communications, among others. These are required to file annual declarations on their waste management to MINAM, but not all of them do so (MINAM, 2014b).

Data for 2010-2013 are inconsistent, owing mainly to the low level of compliance. The reports refer to over 11 billion tonnes of non-municipal solid waste generated in 2012, of which over 97% came from agriculture; but the figures for this sector vary widely in the other years (Table 7.3 and Chapter 10).

The reports indicate that over 1 million tonnes of non-municipal solid waste was produced in 2013, of which 80% came from the manufacturing sector. The largest volume of hazardous waste came from agriculture in that year; and 100% of waste material produced by the health sector was classified as hazardous or biocontaminated (MINAM, 2014b).

Special attention should be paid to electric and electronic equipment waste, in view of its rising trend. Although a specific regulation was issued on the subject in 2012, MINAM estimations show that in 2015 about 150 000 tonnes of used computers and communication equipment had been discarded. Waste materials of this type can pose health and environmental hazards, since, apart from recoverable materials (plastic and ferrous and nonferrous metals), they also contain substances that have a major environmental impact such as mercury, cadmium, chrome and lead (MINAM, 2014b).

Waste from the construction and demolition sector also poses problems owing to the shortage of adequate infrastructure (rubble tips) for their disposal. Regulations were issued on the subject in 2013, but the handling of this type of waste also requires correct zoning (OEFA, 2014b).

Table 7.3. Generation of non-municipal waste by sector, 2010-2013
(Tonnes per year)







8 912

3 634

2 792

823 543


112 116

30 205

41 034

114 673

Energy and hydrocarbons


519 676






1 288




3 217

3 622



51 336

889 902

10 765 456

77 681



116 857





43 015

58 524

12 755

Housing and sanitation



166 182



173 052

1 606 506

11 038 898

1 028 652

Source: Ministry of the Environment (MINAM), Sexto informe nacional de residuos sólidos de la gestión del ámbito municipal y no municipal 2013, Lima, 2014.

Main pressures

The pressures caused by incorrect management of municipal and non-municipal solid waste range from the harmful effects on health and the quality of life of populations living close to informal garbage dumps, contamination of water and soils, and socioenvironmental disputes in the communities where sanitary landfills operate or are scheduled to be built, among others.

One of the key pressures is caused by the limited facilities that exist for waste management (section 1.3). This is compounded by incorrect management of certain sanitary landfills, which has triggered major socioenvironmental conflicts (Box 7.1). The shortage of infrastructure resulted in 30 garbage dumps springing up in the country’s most heavily populated cities outside Lima-Callao. These are sources of infection; how they are managed is unknown (MINAM/NORDEN, 2013); and at least 20 of them are in a critical state (OEFA, 2014c). A global study of the 50 sites at which the largest informal garbage dumps operate found that five of them are in Peru (ISWA, 2016).

Box 7.1. Socioenvironmental conflicts associated with the construction and operation of sanitary landfills

Although Peru has very few sanitary landfills, their construction and operation have not been free from conflicts with the communities in which they have been placed or are planned.

One of the most serious disputes broke out in November 2008, when construction work began on a sanitary landfill in Lastray, to dispose of solid wastes from the districts of Huancayo, Chilca and El Tambo. The confrontations left several people dead and hundreds injured, along with infrastructure damage, as a result of which construction was suspended. The problem originated in 2003, when the Paccha sanitary landfill, which received waste from Huancayo, was closed down owing to mismanagement. The authorities of this city, which did not have a sanitary landfill for its solid waste, declared a health emergency in 2009 when the inhabitants of Paccha refused to allow waste to continue being sent to their district.

Two years later, a similar dispute erupted in connection with the sanitary landfill of Yuncachahuayco, in Urubamba-Cusco, leading to its closure.

In September 2011, the Metropolitan Municipality of Lima definitively shut down the Ancón sanitary landfill owing to the pollution it was causing in the zone. A technical report by DIGESA showed that the landfill operator did not have an approved environmental impact study, nor had it received technical approval as part of the Solid Waste Infrastructure Project. As a result, the landfill was closed down.

Source: prepared by the authors on the basis of MINAM (2014b) and La República, “Clausuran un relleno sanitario de Ancón”, September 2011 [online]

Few studies of the harmful health effects of solid waste have been carried out in Peru. In general, the volume of residential emissions caused by the burning of waste, which is a common practice in localities where there is no regular garbage collection service, is unknown (Chapter 6).

A 1998 study on asthma prevalence among the population of north Lima and how it relates to the environment, found that 19% of households living alongside solid waste accumulation sites had at least one of their members suffering from asthma, compared to 13% in the case of other households (Office of the Ombudsman, 2007).

An analysis of vulnerability associated with the Lima and Callao landfills and garbage dumps found that, in zone 14 of the Comas district, the incidence of acute diarrhoeal diseases was nearly 4 000 per 100 000 inhabitants, compared to an average of 2 000 per 100 000 inhabitants in the district of Pachacamac. Zone 14 is the location for waste separation and recycling activities; and, in addition, its inhabitants are not connected to the drinking water and sewerage networks. The study describes the morphological impact on the banks of the Chillón river, where for many years construction waste has been deposited on flood-prone land areas with a view to urbanisation. This has produced very fragile soils, however, leading to frequent subsidence affecting the homes in the locality. Moreover, most of the people who work in waste recycling activities, who are already very vulnerable, belong to the informal sector and perform their tasks in poor health and safety conditions (Durand and Metzger, 2009).

A study to identify the main sources of pollution in several pilot watersheds in 2000-2012, ranked domestic solid waste dumps second in importance in the Pacific, Amazon and Titicaca watersheds (ANA, 2014). Nonetheless, information is very scarce, and an analysis would need to be made of the negative effects of solid wastes and the facilities into which they are deposited, both socially and in terms of human health and the environment.

1.3. Trend of solid waste management

According to the Ministry of the Environment, solid waste management is ineffective, both in the municipalities and in the other institutions responsible for this (MINAM, 2012b). The handling of municipal waste has improved in recent years, but efforts must be continued to improve it further.

Under current legal provisions, entities that generate solid waste are responsible for its handling while in their possession; but, once delivered to the municipality or to an authorised solid waste service provider, the latter is responsible for its management until disposal in a sanitary landfill (OEFA, 2014b). Enforcing these provisions is difficult owing to the lack of sanitary landfills and the existence of numerous illegal waste dumps, compounded by the few facilities available for depositing non-municipal waste (including construction rubble and electronic and hazardous waste materials), and little or no separation of materials. This situation poses enormous problems for the municipalities, which overwhelm their waste management capacity (OEFA, 2014b and Office of the Ombudsman, 2007).

Figure 7.3. Collection and treatment services

Source: Ministry of the Environment (MINAM), Sexto informe nacional de residuos sólidos de la gestión del ámbito municipal y no municipal 2013, Lima, 2014.

Waste collection and treatment services are generally sparse. Data provided by the municipalities in 2013 indicate that 18 533 tonnes of waste was generated daily; of that total, 87.5% was collected, but only 41% was taken to a sanitary landfill, whereas 47% was disposed of in an informal garbage dump (Figure 7.3). Owing to the lack of supervised garbage dumps, waste is disposed of inappropriately, deposited in unidentified locations and even in rivers and the sea, or burned without any control (MINAM, 2014b; MINAM/ONUDI/GIZ, 2013). Waste materials that are classified, recycled or sent for composting represented just 12.5% of the total in 2013. This is well below the figure in OECD countries, where, on average, 34% of waste collected that year was sent for recycling and composting, and 44% was disposed of in sanitary landfills (Figure 7.4) (OECD, 2016).

Little use is made of waste materials; but if this were increased it could help reduce the amount of waste disposed of in informal garbage dumps and sanitary landfills. Most waste is organic; in fact, in 2013 over 50% of the total represented food remains, while 28% consisted of non-hazardous recyclable waste, including paper, paperboard, plastics, metals, electronic scrap and glass. Of all of these categories, the volume of plastic waste has increased the most (MINAM, 2012c and 2014b).

Figure 7.4. OECD countries: disposal and recovery of municipal waste, 2013

Note : Data corresponding to 2013 or the last year for which information is available.

Source: OECD, “Municipal waste”, OECD Environment Statistics (database), 2015 [online]; and MINAM (2012a).


In the whole of Peru, there are only nine supervised sanitary landfills and two secure landfills for the deposit of hazardous waste materials (Figure 7.5). These are insufficient to absorb all of the garbage generated (OEFA, 2014b). While four of these landfills are in Metropolitan Lima, there are no formal facilities for the final disposal or treatment of solid waste in the forest (selva) region (MINAM, 2010).

Figure 7.5. Location of sanitary and secure landfills

Source: OEFA (2014b).

The exploitation and final treatment of waste material is still incipient (Figure 7.3), owing partly to scant infrastructure, which calls for increased investment to facilitate the prior treatment and recovery of recyclable materials. This can be done through sanitary landfills that make it possible to minimise the harmful effects on the environment and human health.

Progress also needs to be made in terms of the oversight, environmental impact assessment and subsequent closure of informal garbage dumps. The regulations to the General Law on Solid Waste authorise the provincial municipalities to close informal dumps for reasons of environmental pollution, modify informal garbage dumps and build new supervised sanitary landfills for solid waste; some progress has been made on the latter. In 2012, a joint programme of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), which aimed to close garbage dumps in 31 selected cities, began implementation. Further investment is needed to achieve this objective, however. The most recent portfolio of carbon projects published by the National Environmental Fund (FONAM) shows that by 2016 only two operating landfills had registered projects under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) (the landfills of Huaycoloro and Modelo del Callao).

Special attention also needs to be paid to shortcomings in the handling of non-municipal hazardous waste. The Ministry of Health acknowledges that it does not have storage deposits that comply with current regulations and, above all, that it does not have systems for treating biocontaminated solid waste. Only four of the country’s regions apply the autoclave treatment system: Lima (the Sergio E. Bernales hospital), La Libertad (the Trujillo regional hospital), Loreto (the Iquitos regional hospital) and Cusco (the Cusco regional hospital) (MINSA, 2011c). Accordingly, additional investments are needed to build infrastructure for the treatment of hazardous wastes, including secure deposits.

Systemisation of the information

Since 2009, the Solid Waste Management Information System (SIGERSOL) has required the municipalities to report on waste generation and management. This mechanism serves as a basis for compiling quality statistical data, which facilitate the traceability of waste materials and policy decision-making on waste-management planning. The volume of information collected through SIGERSOL has been growing in recent years, and the number of reporting districts has tripled.2 Nonetheless, according to MINAM, there is still a need to improve the quality of the information and ensure it has the consistency needed for adequate processing (MINAM, 2012c).

The Ministry of the Environment has only six reports on municipal solid waste management for the period 2008-2013, which were prepared using data supplied to SIGERSOL by the municipalities.

Although, under current regulations, the municipalities are required to draw up comprehensive solid waste management plans and solid waste handling plans at the regional and local levels, very few districts have adopted these management tools. In 2007, 51 municipalities reported having applied environmental management plans. By 2013 their number had risen to 149, equivalent to 76.4% of the entire country. In 2013, 398 districts had management plans approved and in force; of this total, 64 belonged to the Province of Lima (MINAM, 2014a), which shows that the level of application of these instruments remains very low.

SIGERSOL is also used to compile data on non-municipal solid wastes, which must be submitted by the sectors generating them. Nonetheless, not all sectors have reported the previous year’s solid waste production,3 so it is impossible to identify the trend. Nor has specific information been provided on the subsequent management of the wastes generated (MINAM, 2014b). To overcome this lack, measures should be adopted to improve traceability and ensure correct management.

In the case of non-municipal non-hazardous waste, it is expected that the implementation of the recent regulations on construction and demolition waste, and electrical and electronic equipment waste, will result in information being compiled on their generation and management.

The lack of information on non-municipal hazardous waste is serious, given the potential impact on human health and the environment of incorrect management of this type of material. In 2014, OEFA warned of the inadequacy of secure landfills for the deposit of hazardous wastes (OEFA, 2014a). In addition, the National Environmental Health Policy insists that, given the minimal technical, sanitary and security criteria applied when solid waste is disposed of in informal waste dumps, this represents a public health hazard; so it is recommended that the sanitary surveillance system be strengthened, to ensure its management pursuant to current legislation (MINSA, 2011a).

Resource allocation and training

Solid waste collection services are very precarious and vary from one municipality to another. The diagnostic study of municipal services performed in 2001 highlights their irregularity, owing to factors such as the preference given to commercial areas, the scarcity and obsolescence of the transport fleet, delays in payments and lack of training of operators (PAHO, 2003).

In 2007, the coverage of services providing final disposal for solid waste in authorised sanitary landfills was 92.6% in Metropolitan Lima, compared to 26.1% countrywide. In 2010, no solid waste collection and transport services were provided in 6% of districts. This figure rose to 10% in 2011. Daily collection also declined, from 66% of municipalities in 2010 to 57% in 2011 (MINAM 2012c and 2014b). In some cases —Callao, Moquegua and Áncash, among others— over 90% of waste materials were collected; but in Madre de Dios and Apurimac —again among others— the service is limited to 40% and 35%, respectively. Average coverage was 73% nationally in 2011.

The above is compounded by the informal nature of recycling activities and the precarious work conditions endured by all operators, which reduces the chances of waste management being appropriate from the sanitary standpoint (PAHO, 2003). Although the number of public cleaning personnel practically tripled in recent years, from over 5 600 workers in 2008 to around 16 000 in 2012, there are still wide disparities between municipalities (MINAM 2008, 2012a, 2012c and 2014b). In addition, the fleet of collector vehicles suffers from qualitative and quantitative shortcomings. According to PAHO, 333 vehicles with compacting capacity were needed in Metropolitan Lima in 2001, but only 195 were operating (PAHO, 2003). Ten years later, in 2011, there were still only 613 compactor trucks. Most municipalities also report a lack of appropriate sweeping equipment and insufficient staff to fulfil cleaning and waste collection tasks (MINAM 2008, 2012a, 2012c and 2014b).

In 2009-2013, local government funding for public cleaning services grew by over 45%, from PEN 636 million to PEN 930 million; but revenue from the fees charged fell short by roughly 50% (Figure 7.6). In 2013, the average expenditure on public cleaning services in Peru amounted to PEN 19.97 per capita, compared to revenue of just PEN 6.95. In the same year, in the region of Callao, PEN 89.8 per capita were allocated to this service, whereas revenue was PEN 33.5, generating a deficit of 62.7% (MINAM, 2012c and 2014b). The low revenue level and high arrears rate are widespread problems in the municipalities; these make it difficult to provide a proper service and needs to be corrected. Many municipalities do not bother to charge, despite providing the service (MINAM, 2008).

To tackle this problem, rates should be set in line with the real cost; in other words, to cover all costs of public services of cleaning, collection, transport, transfer, treatment and final disposal, to make it possible to provide a permanent quality service. The municipalities of the districts are also recommended to collect the appropriate fees, according to the criteria set by the provincial municipality, which would help reduce the deficit.

Figure 7.6. Municipal expenditure and revenue for public cleaning services, 2009-2013
(Millions of Peruvian sol)

Source: Ministry of the Environment (MINAM), Sexto informe nacional de residuos sólidos de la gestión del ámbito municipal y no municipal 2013, Lima, 2014.

The availability of better trained staff could also help to improve the services. In 2013, cleaning staff received training in just 25% of the district municipalities (MINAM, 2014b).

At the end of the period under review, only 29 districts, representing 18.44% of the country’s urban population, had reported having undertaken public awareness-raising and education activities on solid waste management.

Public investment projects for recycling and classification

Apart from investments in infrastructure for the final treatment of municipal wastes (controlled sanitary landfills), investment in prior treatment facilities would make it possible to recover reusable waste. Such facilities would include classification procedures to recover metals, paper and paperboard, along with organic waste composting points, equivalent to roughly 60% of the waste generated in the municipalities.

In this domain, investment programmes and projects have been implemented covering various aspects of the comprehensive management of this type of waste. These include the Municipal Modernization Programme (PMM), the National Solid Waste Segregation-at-Source and Selective Collection Programme, and the Programme for the Formalization of Recyclers. The programme of segregation at source and selective collection of solid waste in urban homes began executing throughout Peru in 2011. As the number of participating districts had doubled by 2013, with 304 tonnes of reusable waste being classified per day, the programme should be promoted and expanded to more regions and municipalities —particularly since informal collection services classified a much larger daily volume: 1 649.7 tonnes (Figure 7.4) (MINAM, 2014b).

2. Management of chemical substances

2.1. Legal and institutional framework

The policies implemented by Peru foster principles of prevention and vigilance in chemicals management, with the aim of minimising the potential environmental and occupational hazards and the risks to human health. As a result, they have been incorporated into planning instruments and national development strategies; and the country has signed several international agreements on the subject (MINAM, 2011).

The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants was ratified in 2005. The National Plan to Implement the Stockholm Convention then allowed for the design and implementation of the Pollutant Release and Transfer Register (PRTR), under the responsibility of MINAM in its capacity as administrator of the National Environmental Information System (SINIA). In addition, the Ministry of Agriculture took steps to revive the National Pesticides Commission (CONAP) and to adopt strict rules on extremely dangerous pesticides. Peru is also a party to the Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade; nonetheless, the registration and national control of pesticides in conformity with Andean Community regulations continue to pose a challenge for the agriculture sector (MINAM, 2012c).

The procedures established to fulfil commitments under the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal have been applied. In particular, Law 27.314 and its regulations were approved, empowering the General Directorate of Environmental Health of the Ministry of Health to authorise the importation and exportation of waste materials, and issue the relevant notifications to importing countries. The transport of hazardous materials and waste in national territory is governed by Law 28.256 and the corresponding regulations.

The management of chemicals and hazardous materials is basically governed by the National Environmental Policy (Supreme Decree 012-2009-MINAM), which is of compulsory observance by the government and regional and local governments, and serves as a guide to the private sector and civil society. The “integrated environmental quality management” policy pillar includes six guidelines aimed at “establishing and/or strengthening mechanisms of authorisation, vigilance and control in the life-cycle of chemicals and hazardous materials”; and to “promote the adoption of hazard-control criteria during their use and final disposal”. Special importance is also attached to the dissemination of good practices on chemicals management and to “the incorporation of health criteria and protection of fragile ecosystems, in the establishment, monitoring and control of contingency plans in the use and management of chemicals and hazardous materials” (MINAM, 2009).

The application of the life-cycle and risk management approaches are backed by the National Environmental Health Policy 2011-2020 and the National Disaster Risk Management Policy, respectively. State Policy 19, on sustainable development and environmental management, supports the appropriate and safe management of chemicals. One of its objectives is to promote environmental management instruments, particularly those relating to prevention and clean production, with the aim of stimulating environmental investments and the transfer of technologies to generate mining, transport and sanitation activities, along with the use of clean and competitive energy sources.

National policies on the management of chemicals have been incorporated into environmental planning instruments. These include Strategic Action 7.17 of the National Environmental Action Plan PLANAA Peru 2011-2021, the objective of which is to diminish and control the environmental hazards represented by chemicals throughout their life-cycle, in accordance with commitments assumed under multilateral agreements on the environment.

Specifically, Peru has adopted the following instruments on chemicals management: the General Health Act (Law 26.842), the General Law on the Environment (Law 28.611) and Decree Law 1.059, approving the General Law on Agricultural Health of 2008. These laws contain provisions on the classification of hazardous substances and products, on limiting their toxicity, and on their harmful effects on human health. They require firms to adopt measures to effectively control the hazardous substances and materials that they use, to avoid negative environmental effects and adequately manage agricultural inputs such as chemical pesticides.

The legislation adopted in Peru regulates the management of chemicals by use, rather than according to the danger they pose. Owing to the multiple purposes and goals of the entities responsible, this makes it difficult to achieve the objectives of strategic instruments, while also limiting management effectiveness and making it unnecessarily bureaucratic.

Regulation of the different aspects of chemicals management is the responsibility of several government institutions. The Ministry of the Environment is the national entity responsible for policy-making on the subject (Table 7.4); but an overlap of powers has been detected in several stages of pesticide management, which restricts efficient articulation among the authorities. The situation is similar in management of petroleum products, industrial chemicals, chemicals of public consumption and civil-use explosives.

In view of the above, it is recommended to strengthen articulation between the institutions that have different responsibilities, through interagency roundtables co-ordinated by the National Environmental Authority. This would facilitate the preparation of joint work programmes and plans of action, along with the monitoring of selected activities, assignment of compliance responsibilities and the establishment of a work schedule for the execution of each activity. It would also be advisable to strengthen capacities among institutions that fulfil chemicals management functions regionally and locally, set related targets that are appropriate to the geopolitical units, and develop plans to monitor capacity development.

Peru has not adopted a policy on chemicals management as such, so this is framed in general policies, to some extent linked with chemicals management and prevention of the risks they represent, but in the general context of environmental management. This renders the measures adopted to manage these substances less effective, given the lack of a specific plan of action.

Table 7.4. Powers of the ministries and government institutions related to pesticides

Responsible Entity







Use and handling

Final disposal

Ministry of Health/DIGESA








Executive Directorate of Environmental Health / DESA



Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation / National Agrifood Health and Quality Service (SENASA)






Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation / General Directorate of Environmental Affairs (DGAA)


Ministry of Labour and Employment Promotion





Local governments / Municipalities







Ministry of Production / Vice Ministry of Industry

Regional Production Directorates



Ministry of Transport and Communications / General Directorate of Environmental and Social Affairs (DGASA)


National Tax and Customs Administration (SUNAT)


Ministry of the Environment

National authority establishing the National Environmental Policy and issuing guidelines on chemicals management

Note: Including POPs.

Source: MINSA (2011b).

In view of this situation, consideration should be given to developing a specific instrument, based on a preventive approach and related to risk management throughout the life-cycle of chemical substances. This should be complemented with a plan of action that sets short-, medium- and long-term compliance targets, which would make it possible to channel initiatives to strengthen the relevant normative and regulatory framework, and thus enhance management.

2.2. Current status and trends in chemicals use

Chemicals use in Peru has grown vigorously, mainly for two reasons. The first is the importation of the substances, although information is only available for those included in a tariff line. The second reason is the growth of industries such as pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and bottle manufacturing.


The main chemicals imported are classified as either organic or inorganic, and are listed in customs tariff chapters 28 and 29, of section VI (Products of the chemicals or allied industries). In 2008-2012, 76% of total imports were organic substances and 23% inorganic. There was a general reduction in imports. This was steep in the case of sulphuric acid owing to an increase in domestic production (MINAM, 2014a). In 2013, a total of 119 imported chemical products posed some degree of hazard: 52% had toxic effects for the environment and aquatic organisms, and 19% were toxic for human health, including reproduction.

In sectoral terms, imports of the pharmaceutical products listed in chapter 30 of the customs tariff grew (MINAM, 2014a). There were also increases in foreign purchases of chemicals used in the agriculture, mining and manufacturing sectors —particularly for the first of these, in which fertiliser production and imports grew by almost 50% in 2001-2007 (MINAM, 2011) and practically tripled between 2003 and 2013 (MINAM, 2014a).

In terms of data on imports, the indirect production of statistics on the subject was improved, since in Peru there is no unified system for recording substances and products that are not included in a tariff line. Consequently, the recommendation is to identify the country of origin; expand the classification and registration criteria on the basis of the tariff lines and also by gradually establishing lines for new products; and present maps indicating the location of the firms that import and use materials of this type.

Special importance should also be given to strengthening sanitary and environmental surveillance mechanisms at the border. The National Superintendency of Customs and Tax Administration (SUNAT) has a laboratory for analysing chemicals; but this could be insufficient for controlling all of those that have hazardous characteristics and are not identified in the tariff lines (MINSA, 2011b).


Heavy metals, particularly mercury, have started to attract special attention on both domestic and international agendas. In South America, Peru is the largest importer of this metal, which is widely used in small-scale and artisanal mining, in the pharmaceutical industry and elsewhere, and in measurement and control equipment, among other sectors. Mercury imports have gradually declined as a result of government measures, which are expected to be strengthened following ratification of the Minamata Convention on Mercury in 2015 (Table 7.5). Imports of mercury from Latin American countries are estimated to have declined in 2010-2012, following the entry into force of the prohibition on mercury exports imposed by the European Union (March 2011) and the United States (January 2013) (UNEP, 2014).

Exports of this substance have dropped sharply since 2010, falling to a level of 16.6 tonnes in 2012 (Table 7.5) (SUNAT, 2016, and MINAM, 2016a). Among other factors, this could be because mining firms store mercury until they accumulate a sufficient volume to be worth exporting, to ensure its environmentally sound long-term storage as a waste product (UNEP, 2014).

Table 7.5. Imports and exports of mercury, 2010-2015
(Net tonnes)



















Source: SUNAT (2016).

Special attention should be paid to the use of mercury in artisanal gold mining activities, where formalisation is essential (Box 7.2). Achieving this objective requires adequate interagency co-ordination and a continuous process of integration (Chapter 12).

Box 7.2. Mercury use in illegal gold mining

Mercury is used in illegal mining activities, particularly for gold extraction, and specifically in the amalgamation process.

In the Madre de Dios watershed, as elsewhere in the Amazon region, illegal miners extract sand and gravel, which is then taken to facilities where it is deposited on jute carpets. It is then washed with jets of water which precipitate the heaviest material, containing gold particles, under the carpet.

The gold-bearing sand is collected in receptacles in which the amalgamation process is performed, using up to 2.8 kg of mercury to extract 1 kg of gold. The amalgam obtained is 60% mercury and 40% gold. In most cases, the residues of the amalgamation are discharged into rivers.

Miners then heat the amalgam to separate the gold and evaporate the mercury. Between 50% and 60% of vaporised mercury disperses, while the reader reverts to the liquid state and drops into the soil. Given the scant application of mercury recuperation techniques, the residues end up in water bodies, where they are converted into methylmercury, a toxic substance.

Source: Ministry of the Environment (MINAM), “Quién es quién en la minería ilegal”, Revista MINAM, No. 2, Lima, 2014.

Production of chemicals

In general, the production of chemical substances and products in Peru also increased slightly between 2007 and 2012. The sharpest increase occurred in chemicals used to produce latex paints, while oxygen production has decreased (Figure 7.7). In 2008-2012, chemical-industry gross value-added grew by up to 1.16%; and the industry continues to rank second in terms of value-added in the manufacturing sector, behind the food industry (INEI, 2016).

A total of 40 industrial chemicals are produced in Peru, of which 29 pose a negligible hazard level according to the international treaties signed by the country (MINAM, 2014a). One of the main harmful effects of chemicals for human health is chronic intoxications, most often caused by lead, mercury, arsenic, copper and aluminium. These environmental risk factors are estimated to cause an annual loss of 210 000 disability adjusted life years (MINSA, 2011c).

The chemicals profile in 2010 reveals a substantial reduction in the use of certain substances, including chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs).4 It also identifies the main problems and challenges in the management of substances such as persistent organic pollutants (POPs), and pesticides in particular. Although the use of many of these substances has been banned since the 1990s, the pesticides used in agriculture may have been brought in as contraband from neighbouring countries. In 1991, bans were placed on the use of aldrin, endrin, dieldrin, heptachlor, toxaphene and dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane (DDT). Then in 1999 the registration, importation, local production, distribution and marketing of commercial variants of chlordane and hexachlorobenzene were also banned. While there is no regulation expressly prohibiting the use of DDT to prevent diseases, the Ministry of Health is running a programme based on an integrated control strategy, thanks to which it has been unnecessary to use this substance in the last 12 years.

Figure 7.7. Production of selected chemicals substances and products, 2007-2012

Note: Preliminary data.

Source: Ministry of Production.

Fertiliser production surged in 2005-2009, from 1 654 tonnes to 416 064 tonnes; and since 2007 it has continued to grow strongly. In that period, imports dropped by almost 50%, from 661 294 tonnes to 312 796 tonnes (MINSA, 2011b) (Chapter 10).

2.3. Trend of the management of chemicals and pollution control instruments

The main constraints that hinder the management of hazardous substances in Peru are the following: (i) shortage of infrastructure for the final disposal of hazardous wastes; (ii) lack of laboratories and trained staff for their analysis; (iii) non-standardisation of records of incidents and the information presented thereon; (iv) insufficient regional hazard maps to help identify populations at risk and critical evacuation routes; (v) insufficient training of workers, communities, and participants in the health and education sectors, on the prevention of chemical, radioactive and biological emergencies, and the corresponding responses; (vi) lack of homogeneity and limited implementation of prevention and response protocols, and scant dissemination of the protocols formulated by interagency organisations; (vii) inadequate disclosure and management of information; (viii) insufficient allocation of economic resources for prevention, equipment procurement, rehabilitation and remediation in cases of accidents or emergencies; and (ix) deficient medical care for the victims of accidents caused by radioactive materials, owing to a lack of infrastructure and trained staff (INDECI, 2010).

Table 7.6. Sectors of activity in which the most serious chemical accidents have occurred owing to radioactive and biological products




Exploration and prospecting, production, refining, storage, distribution, marketing and transport


Production, transport and marketing

Pesticide production

Supply, transport, storage, commerce, use and waste management


Prospecting, extraction, transport, marketing and waste management

Production of chemicals of industrial use

Manufacture, transport, storage, marketing, use and waste management

Use of radioactive substances in medicine (radiotherapy and nuclear medicine)

Importation, use and waste management

Use of radioactive substances in industry (oil refining, non-destructive testing, irradiation and sterilisation, among others)

Importation, use and waste management

Use of radioactive substances and research (nuclear reactors and biomedical research, among others)

Importation, use and waste management

Management of epidemics, pandemics and emerging or re-emerging endemics


Source: National Civil Defence Institute of Peru (INDECI), Plan nacional de prevención y preparación para la respuesta ante riesgos por materiales y residuos peligrosos: guía técnica 2010, Lima, 2010.

In recent years, solid waste management has improved and there has been greater compliance with the provisions of the General Law on Solid Wastes (Supreme Decree 057-2004-PCM). Following the creation in 2014 of the National Quality System and its governing body, the National Institute of Quality (INACAL), which supports the Technical Committee on Standardization of Environmental Management, progress has been made in standardising the relevant methods and systems. Thus far, the committee has adopted 58 technical standards on environmental management, many of which are based on provisions of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) that are applicable to various domains, including the management of chemical residues and containers used for pesticides and similar products (MINAM, 2016b).

Nonetheless, hindrances persist, including insufficient specific regulations; the limited application of the current regulations on the management of chemicals and hazardous waste; and weak inspection and sanctioning mechanisms, compounded by the slow process of decentralising the relevant administrative functions. An integrated system of information on the management of chemicals and hazardous wastes has yet to be adopted, which would make it possible to consolidate the available information and overcome its insufficiency (MINSA, 2011b).

As noted in the following section, Peruvian laws contain guidelines regulating use-based chemicals management, which poses a challenge for effective articulation among the authorities. It also hinders the subsequent achievement of objectives set in the strategic instruments of the public agencies involved.

Contingency plans and workplace safety systems

Chemicals and pesticides were among the 10 leading factors or agents behind workplace accidents in 2006-2015, and the number of cases notified has been rising (Figure 7.8).

Figure 7.8. Workplace accidents involving chemicals and pesticides, 2006-2015

Note: Excludes notifications of fatal accidents. The statistical yearbooks only report cases verified and notified as from 2006 and 2011, respectively

Source: Prepared by the authors on the basis of Ministry of Labour and Employment Promotion, Anuario Estadístico, several years

The diagnostic study performed by INDECI in 2010, recommends strengthening the formulation, dissemination and generalised application of appropriate public policies, to respond to accidents caused by the handling of hazardous materials and waste (INDECI, 2010). Current management instruments include the workplace safety plans and systems specified in the law, which require the preparation and presentation of contingency plans (Law 28.551) to prevent and respond to chemical accidents. Nonetheless, informal enterprises, which pose the highest risks, do not apply these instruments, so the personnel of services that are activated in the event of accidents and emergencies of anthropic or natural origin, including the fire service and police, do not have all the information they need. Moreover, the prevention, action and rehabilitation measures related to such cases are not clearly defined. It is very important to have information available on the properties of chemical products, because their inadequate handling can have harmful effects on workers; moreover, the information should be disseminated to allow for a rational use of these products with a preventive approach.

Recently, Directorial Resolution 006–2015/MINSA was approved, which aims to standardise the methodology and establish intersectoral articulation mechanisms, for the purpose of overseeing risk factors associated with exposure to, and intoxication by, heavy metals and metalloids.

With regard to workers’ health protection, the recommendation is to strengthen oversight institutions, including the Ministry of Health. To generate the necessary synergies, these institutions can work in co-ordination with the Ministry of Employment, and propose guidelines and legal provisions to formalise occupational health control, along with administrative and financial directives to make it possible to provide funding to undertake the control activities established for the whole country.

Permissible limits

In terms of the permissible limits of chemical agents used in the workplace, the regulation issued through Supreme Decree 015-2005-SA stipulates that the limits applicable to chemicals listed in its annexes I, II and III should be updated every two years; and new chemicals should be incorporated “in the light of scientific and technological progress”. The fact that the provisions of the regulation apply to chemicals only, and not their blends, complicates their monitoring and control. Observance of the permissible limits is controlled in the final stage of productive and extractive processes; and the Ministry of the Environment is responsible for co-ordinating with the authorities of all sectors.

The regulations identify three groups of actors that can participate in reducing risks arising from exposure to chemicals: (i) the Government, which is responsible for formulating standards, guidelines and monitoring protocols, and for updating the list of chemicals, as provided for in Supreme Decree 015-2005-SA; (ii) employers, who are required to perform the controls provided for and keep workers informed of the risks involved in the handling, use, conveyance, storage and final disposal of the substances, as well as providing them with adequate protection pursuant to article 33 of the regulation to the Workplace Health and Safety Act (Law 29.783); and (iii) workers, who must apply the safety, health and hygiene standards established by the respective firm.

Systemisation of information

Significant progress has been made in systemising information, particularly through PRTR, which the Government has prioritised as an action strategy of the National Plan for Implementation of the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, adopted in 2007. Its purpose is to create a database with information on these pollutants, to be used in the monitoring and quantification of progress in reducing emissions and discharges from the manufacturing, energy and mining, agriculture, housing and construction, health and defence sectors, into water bodies, the air, and soils (MINAM, 2014c). At the present time MINAM is working to implement the register, prepare the complementary tools and materials, and develop knowledge in conjunction with civil society and the entities that will have to submit the information.

Sanitary import permits for chemicals have increased in recent years, owing to the adoption of environmental measures in the main export markets for hazardous chemicals, particularly the European Union. As a result, there is more information on substances entering the country, but it would be very useful if this could be complemented with better control services in the ports, and if the data compiled were combined with those provided by the entities that supervise the management of authorised chemicals, to enable their monitoring throughout the life-cycle.

There is no unified information system to facilitate the adoption of guidelines on the creation of new chemical industries, in accordance with risk- and accident-management, among other approaches. This system should include georeferenced information on environmentally vulnerable sectors and zones in which accidents of anthropic or natural origin are most frequent.

Control of the land transport of hazardous materials and waste

Peru has a legal framework on this subject (Law 28.256 and Supreme Decree 021-2008-MTC), which is complemented by national-scope measures to mitigate and prevent the potential hazards associated with chemicals management. An example of this type of measure arises from an initiative of the Ministry of Transport and Communications to create an online register, enabling transport operators to report on the hazardous materials and waste products transported each month. This is a major step forward and a significant contribution to the preventive management of chemicals throughout their life-cycle.

Prohibitions on pesticide use

Pesticides are classified in the following use categories: (i) agricultural; (ii) industrial; (iii) domestic; and (iv) public-health protection. The main restriction imposed on the agriculture sector relates to POPs, the subject addressed in the Stockholm Convention, and pesticides that are recognised internationally as dangerous. In the industrial sector, the use of substances that deplete the ozone layer are restricted, as provided for in the Vienna Convention and Montreal Protocol.

National regulations restricting the use of pesticides classified as extremely dangerous or very dangerous should be complemented with measures to encourage the importation of alternative products, so as to safeguard the competitiveness of agricultural exports and protect the health of national consumers. The registration and control of agricultural pesticides are subject to the supranational regulations of the Andean Community (April 2015), which served as the basis for creating the National Agricultural Pesticides System. As this is a recent mechanism, it has not yet been possible to judge the extent to which it helps reduce their indiscriminate, informal and unlawful use, and to minimise the risks relating to food security and safety; and their effects on the competitiveness of agricultural products that are exported to markets with stricter regulations and controls on pesticide residues. No laws have yet been passed on the control of pesticides intended for the protection of human health, industrial use and in gardening.

It would therefore be advisable to strengthen co-ordination between the agriculture and health sectors; and to restrict related functions with the prohibitions applicable to pesticides of agricultural and domestic use, particularly in the framework of toxicological studies which should consider the ingestion of contaminated food products by the population and the performance of agricultural workers.

2.4. Research on chemicals management

Research and development

Research into chemicals management is prioritised in the 2013-2021 Environmental Research Agenda (MINAM, 2013). The agenda consists of two thematic pillars, which consider the analysis of chemicals in the following areas: (i) marine-coastal ecosystems (evaluation of the effects of chemical and toxic substances on aquatic organisms and their populations); (ii) climate change (the impact of chemical changes associated with greenhouse gas emissions (natural and anthropogenic); and (iii) environmental quality management in all of its dimensions. The prioritisation of these thematic areas is expected to elicit funding for studies on the subject, which should be supported by collaboration with research centres and universities.

Management of chemical products

The Bicentenary Plan: Peru towards 2021 includes technological modernisation strategies and the promotion of competitiveness to facilitate chemicals management and, hence support Peru’s sustainable development. The application of this plan is complemented by MINAM activities to co-ordinate with different actors on sustainable production and consumption, according to the principle of extended producer responsibility, which is recognised in the National Regulation for the Management and Handling of Electrical and Electronic Equipment Waste, approved through Supreme Decree 001-2012-MINAM.


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← 1. NAMA: Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions, established in the Bali Action Plan.

← 2. SIGERSOL received information from 246 districts in 2009, 251 in 2010, 447 in 2011, 664 in 2012, and 666 in 2013. The latter figure represents 36.31% of Peru’s 1 834 districts.

← 3. The agriculture sector did not present information in 2007; nor did the mining sector in 2009, the health and energy and mining sectors in 2010, and the transport sector in 2011.

← 4. Chlorofluorocarbons are not manufactured in Peru so their consumption relies on imports.