ECPA and the multiplier effect of the Circular Economy in Latin America and the Caribbean

Friday, July 24, 2015

The Department of Sustainable Development’s initiative on Closed-Loop Cycle Production in the Americas (CLCPA) is introducing the Cradle to Cradle® (C2C) concept in Latin America and the Caribbean using three programmatic components: awareness raising, analysis and advice for drafting policies, and promoting application of this innovative philosophy.

The concept of the Circular Economy, based on the principles of C2C, provides an alternative to the current linear economic model of “take-make-waste,” by disassociating growth from the use of natural resources and ecosystems. This philosophy is highly compatible with the principle of sustainable development and could provide added value to inter-governmental negotiation processes for the Post-2015 Development Agenda, in the framework of the Inter-American Council for Integral Development and the United Nations.

The food and drink subsector in Panama is a pioneer in the region, with two companies that have integrated the C2C concept to some of their product packaging. As part of the CLCP initiative for Panama, there was a national call for proposals to select small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to develop internal C2C certification processes. In January 2015, two Panamanian companies were selected, Aguas Cristalinas SA and Productos Lux SA, to participate in the pilot program “First Steps for Closed-Loop Cycle Production in Panama.” This initiative is in collaboration with the Industrial Union of Panama (Sindicato de Industriales de Panamá, SIP), the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, and the Ministry of the Environment. Selection was based on criteria such as accessibility of the company, compliance with national legislation, complexity of the products, environmental context, and knowledge of the supply chain, among others.

In 2012, McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry, LLC (MBDC) granted C2C product certification license to Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute (C2CPII). This C2C certification is awarded through an independent, transparent process. It applies to materials, subassemblies, and finished products, and assesses the product and its manufacturer according to five categories: material health, material reutilization, renewable energy and carbon management, water stewardship, social fairness, and biodiversity.

Aguas Cristalinas SA and Productos Lux SA have undertaken the task of collecting detailed data related to the make-up of their packaging and flow of materials, as part of the inventory needed to start the C2C certification process. Aguas Cristalinas SA began operations in 1986. It is a medium-sized enterprise with 146 employees. It has more than 20 trucks, with a total of 24 routes for delivering non-returnable water tanks and bottles to clients. The company hopes to obtain the bronze-level C2C certification for its Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles.

Productos Lux SA, commercially known as Proluxsa, was founded in 1964. It is a medium-sized enterprise headquartered in Panama City, with 218 employees. It produces vinegars, sauces, juices, and vanilla abstract. The company owns the largest vinegar processing plant in Central American and the Caribbean and uses PET containers to bottle them. Proluxsa hopes to apply for the bronze-level C2C certification for the PET bottles used for its white and dark vinegars.