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Many companies have found substantial savings by manufacturing in Mexican maquiladoras. From the low-cost, high-skill labor pool to the plethora of international free trade agreements to the modernized infrastructure and connectivity, Mexico is a destination of choice for outsourcing. However, it’s essential to understand the relevant environmental laws and regulations in Mexico to avoid potential compliance issues. 

Mexican environmental law

Since the inclusion of environmental protections in the federal constitution in 1999, Mexico has been a staunch protector of the nation’s significant ecological assets. Several additional amendments, treaties, and regulations have gone into effect, as the country seeks to solidify and codify a functional relationship between industry and environmental protection.

Below, we’ll cover some of the key environmental regulations that companies should be familiar with when manufacturing in Mexico. In order to avoid expensive fees, fines, or sanctions, foreign entities that might be somewhat unfamiliar with the pertinent regulations should perform their due diligence to understand Mexican environmental law. The information detailed below will help improve compliance and understanding and ensure a profitable future in this environmentally conscious country.

Mexican Environmental Law

Mexico has a comprehensive legal framework for environmental protection, including federal and state-level laws and regulations. Since enshrining environmental protection in the country’s constitution, Mexico has legislated additional protections over specific areas of the environment. Some of the most important federal regulations for manufacturers to know include:

  • General Law of Ecological Balance and Environmental Protection (LGEEPA)
  • National Waters Law (Ley de Aguas Nacionales)
  • Law of Sustainable Forest Development (Ley de Desarrollo Forestal Sustentable)
  • Federal Law for the Prevention and Control of Environmental Pollution (Ley Federal de Prevención y Control de la Contaminación Ambiental)

These laws govern primarily three areas of potential pollution:

  • Air pollution: emissions should be monitored to stay within regulated levels.
  • Water pollution: wastewater discharge is governed according to industry specifications.
  • Chemical agents: specific measures and processes are prescribed to ensure compliance.

It’s important to note that there may be additional state-level regulations that companies need to comply with, depending on where they plan to manufacture in Mexico. These regulations can vary widely, so it’s crucial to research the specific requirements in the area where your company plans to operate.

Compliance Considerations

Compliance with Mexican environmental law is critical for manufacturers operating in Mexico. Failure to comply with these regulations can result in fines, legal penalties, and reputational damage. Here are some of the key compliance issues that companies should be aware of:

  • Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs): Certain types of manufacturing activities require an EIA before operations can begin. These assessments evaluate the potential environmental impacts of a project and ensure that the necessary measures are taken to mitigate any negative effects.
  • Hazardous Waste Management: Manufacturers in Mexico are required to manage hazardous waste in compliance with federal regulations. This includes properly storing, labeling, and disposing of hazardous materials.
  • Air and Water Quality: Mexico has regulations in place to monitor and regulate air and water quality. Manufacturers must comply with these regulations to avoid fines and legal penalties.
  • Corporate Social Responsibility: While not strictly an environmental regulation, many manufacturers in Mexico have begun to adopt corporate social responsibility (CSR) practices, including sustainability initiatives. Failure to adopt these practices can lead to reputational damage, which can be costly for companies in the long run.

Trends and Developments

Like many countries, Mexico’s environmental regulations are constantly evolving. Here are some of the key trends and developments to keep an eye on:

  • Greater Enforcement: In recent years, Mexican authorities have increased their enforcement of environmental regulations. This means that companies must be more diligent than ever in complying with these regulations to avoid fines and legal penalties.
  • Renewable Energy: While Mexico is aiming for energy independence, the country has also set a goal of generating 35% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2024. Manufacturers should consider adopting renewable energy solutions to comply with these regulations and reduce their environmental footprint.
  • Circular Economy: Mexico has launched initiatives to promote the circular economy, including the implementation of extended producer responsibility (EPR) programs. Manufacturers should consider adopting EPR programs to comply with these regulations and reduce waste.

Going forward, companies that plan to manufacture in Mexico must be familiar with the relevant environmental laws and regulations to avoid compliance issues. Compliance with these regulations is critical, especially for foreign-owned companies who want to be good corporate citizens in this country.

By staying informed about trends and developments in Mexican environmental law and regulations, manufacturers can stay ahead of the curve and reduce their environmental footprint. This will ensure that Mexico’s natural resources are here for future generations while fostering a healthy environment for businesses and people alike.

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