Circular economy opportunities in Chile

Chile shows interesting characteristics for doing business with in the field of circular economy. With the highest score in the Latin American region on the Global Innovation Index and ambitious goals in the field of circular economy and waste management, Chilean-Dutch collaboration is not unlikely.

Thinking about doing business in Chile? Below you will find information on policy landscape, circular economy strategy and selected priority areas!

An overview of the most important information for business in Chile

Facts & Figures

Economic indicators

  • Population (2019): 18,9 mln
  • Nominal GDP (2019): $240.192 bn, world rank: 41th
  • GDP per capita (2019): $25.155
  • Import from NL (2018): €706 mln
  • Economic growth (2018): 4%
  • Ease of doing business rank (2020): 59/190
  • Corruption index (2019): 27/198
  • Unemployment rate (2019): 7%
  • Currency: Chilean peso
  • Time difference NL: -4/-5/-6 hrs

Circular economy indicators

  • Global innovation index (2020): 54/131 (highest score in the Latin American region)
  • Municipal waste recycling rate: 2%
  • Organic waste reuse: 1%
    Estimation by the Ministry of the Environment:
  • National waste (2017) 23 million/tons
  • Plastic packaging recovery: 12%
  • Tire recovery: 5%

Graph: Waste generation in Chile 2016-2017
Source: Quinto Reporte del Estado del Medio Ambiente (2019)

Policy landscape

Chili has ambitious circular goals, which are represented in legislation, roadmaps and strategies. Early 2020, the government committed to cut greenhouse gas with up to 45% by 2030 and reach carbon neutrality by 2050 in the updated National Determined Contribution.

In 2019, the Ministry of the Environment launched ‘Circular Chile‘ the first programme for the circular economy in Latin America. The goals of this roadmap are structured around four themes: obtaining raw materials, production, consumption and services, and waste management. The main objective for 2040 is to have less than 10% of household waste going to landfill (currently 96%). Of organic waste only 1% is currently being reused. Chile’s ambition is to go from 1% recovery to 66% by the year 2040 by aiming for citizens to generate less organic waste, achieve a greater separation at the source, and by providing infrastructure, equipment and logistics systems.

Plastic pact
Striving to eliminate unnecessary single-use plastics the campaign ‘Circula el Plástico’ was launched in 2019. The main goals are making 100% of plastic packaging reusable, recyclable, or compostable, and ensure that 30% of all plastic packaging is reused, recycled or composted. Moreover, Chile is the first country of the region to implement a communication strategy on plastics, such as #ChaoBolsasPlásticas.

Circular Economy in Agriculture
The Ministry of Agriculture recently published the ‘CE Program for the Agrofood Sector‘. This strategy focuses on the five sub-sectors wine, livestock, fruit, vegetables and cereals, and is mainly aimed at actions in the production and processing stages of the value chain.

Extended Producer Responsibility (ERP)
Chile is one of the first countries in Latin America to adopt Extended Producer Responsibility, which was presented to the Chilean Chamber of Deputies in 2013. In 2015, Chile adopted this policy in order to manage waste and reduce its generation by focusing on six key products: lubricating oils, electric/electronic devices, batteries, packaging, tires, and newspapers and magazines.

Water Resources
In 2019, the government convened the National Water Board – Mesa Nacional del Agua to establish the central contents of a long-term water policy, to propose the necessary water infrastructure and water management in the medium and long term and to define the basic principles of the legal and institutional framework.

We see three priority areas when it comes to circular economy opportunities for collaboration: Agriculture, Packaging and Water

Dutch Embassy in Chile

Agriculture & Food

Agro-Food is an essential export product for Chile as it counts for 16,5% of its total export. With also the highest score in the region in the Global Food Security Index 2019, ambitious goals in the field of agro waste management and a national circular economy programme for agriculture, Chile shows to be a relevant potential business partner for Dutch circular entrepreneurs with agro-food solutions. Dutch technology can, for instance, support in the valorisation of organic waste streams, especially from industry. Examples are digestion as a source of renewable energy and fertilizer or high-end valorisation of organic waste into biobased materials. Opportunities lie in the recovery of, for instance, fruit losses into new packaging, and fish waste by using new processing techniques.

Other Dutch innovation examples fitting challenges that the Chilean cope with are focused on new varieties and rootstock adapted to changing climatic conditions or intelligence and predictive models to guide future decision making.

Water management

Water availability is a big issue in Chile. Especially in the north and central part of the country water scarcity and droughts affect cities, agriculture and mining activities. The production and transport of desalinated water is expensive and competing interests for water, combined with legislative inconsistencies and lack of systematic water rights registration, leads to a strong need for experienced partners with innovative watermanagement solutions.

As the Dutch have years of experience in efficient water use in agriculture, water treatment and water reuse, companies and consultancy firms active in the integral supply chain of water production, treatment and transport can find impactful business opportunities in Chile. Providing (recovered) water in the right quantity and quality, at the right moment for the right application (drinking water, mining or agriculture) is a key opportunity.

Plastics and sustainable packaging

Currently only 11,8% of plastic packaging waste from both domestic (4,5%) and industrial origin (17,6%) are valorized. With the emergence of the new EPR law and the Chilean Plastic Pact, Chile shows serious interest and momentum for opportunities in separation, collection, recycling, and alternative packaging technologies.

Logistics, access to input material and demand for recycled materials are challenges withholding Chile from reaching its ambitious plastic goals and Dutch knowledge and experience might be just the right solution at the right timing. Also the Dutch plastics value- chain approach with actions from both public and private players can be inspirational for Chile and can open various markets.

Major upcoming events

See also related items below.

More information, news and events related to Chile!