- Date submitted: 31 Oct 2011
- Stakeholder type: Major Group
- Name: NGO PROTESTE (Brazilian Association of Consumers Protection)
- Submission Document: Download
CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE UNITED NATIONS CONFERENCE ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT - RIO+20
PROPOSITION: PROTESTE ? ASSOCIAÇÃO BRASILEIRA DE DEFESA DO CONSUMIDOR (BRAZILIAN ASSOCIATION FOR CONSUMER PROTECTION)
I. PROFILE, HISTORY AND MISSION
PROTESTE ? Associação Brasileira de Defesa do Consumidor, Brazilian Association for Consumer Protection, registered at CNPJ/MF under number 04.591.034/0001-59, based on 6.420 Lúcio Costa Ave, Rooms 101 to 106 ? Barra da Tijuca, Rio de Janeiro/RJ, and representative office on 173 Dr. Bacelar Street,commercial complex 52 ? Vila Clementino, São Paulo/SP, is a non-profit Civil Association, independent from governments and enterprises, political or religious groups, whose statutory purpose meets the requirements foreseen by Articles 4th, II, ?b?; 5th, V; 6th, I, II, III, VI, VII, of Law no. 8.078, of September 11, 1990 and 2nd, of Decree no. 2.181, of March 20,
It was established in July, 2001, on the initiative of IPEG ? Instituto Pedra Grande de Preservação Ambiental, from Atibaia (SP), established 20 years ago, and ABC-Test-Achats, Associação Belga de Consumidores, Belgium Consumer Association, that has been defending European consumers for over 44 years.
The Association, that currently has about 250 thousand active associates, is the biggest organization for consumer protection in Latin America and is a qualified OSCIP entity ? Civil Society Organization for Public Interest (D.O.U. ? Official Journal of the Union ? no. 237 of 12/05/03).
It is associated to Euroconsumers ? European Association -, the second biggest consumer protection association in the world, with over 1 million associates, which unites organizations from Belgium, Portugal, Spain and Italy. It is also associated to Consumers International ? organization that brings together entities for consumer protection from all over the world, and that promotes de defense of the interests of consumers through local centers, in particular from Latin America and Caribbean, with headquarters in Santiago, Chile.
PROTESTE is also a member of ICRT ? International Consumer Research and Testing, independent organization that unites associations of consumers from all over the world, with the view of stimulating cooperation in research and comparative tests.
It is the mission of PROTESTE to raise standards of consumer protection in Brazil by all instruments at its disposal. For this purpose, its goals are:
? Inform, guide and defend the consumer, individually and collectively, fighting for the improvement of consumption relations in Brazil;
? Promote and implement the compliance of consumer protection laws, as well as fight for the improvement of all the correlative amendments;
? Help improve the quality of life of consumers in Brazil, particularly with regard to the quality of products and services, providing also orientation to the access to Justice, when necessary.
In order to inform, guide, represent and defend the interests of the Brazilian consumer, PROTESTE has its legitimacy granted by its bylaws (art. 4th), as well as by the Code of Consumer Protection (art. 4th, ?b? and art. 5th, ?V?). We act in accordance to Article 5th, XVII to XXI of The Federal Constitution and to Articles 53 to 61 of the Brazilian Civil Code, that expressly
rules Civil Associations in Brazil. We do not advocate individually, neither appoint Law offices to our associates, for ethical reasons.
In that sense, supported by Article 103 of Law no. 8.078/90 and article 2nd of Federal Decree no. 2.181/97, PROTESTE is an entity that is part of Sistema Nacional de Defesa do Consumidor (SNDC), National System for Consumer Defense, coordinated by Departamento de Proteção e Defesa do Consumidor (DPDC), Agency for Protection and Defense of the Consumer, agency linked to the Ministry of Justice.
Such organization has been seriously acting through the ten years of its existence in Brazil, and its work for consumers defense has been recognized not only by civil society but also by public agencies, like Public Prosecutor Office and Federal Chamber, as well as public and private companies. We highlight, once more, that all the work is done with complete independence.
Brazil is among 20 the most important emerging countries, where the society has the need for an independent association, able to work in an organized way, without the intention to compete with the existing System but on the contrary, cooperating with expertise and high-standard technical knowledge. PROTESTE is among the twelve biggest consumers defense organizations in the world concerning to action, expertise and contribution to society, all of that achieved in its ten-year journey.
Among our activities, we also highlight:
? ProTeste Magazine (published monthly, except January), Money and Rights (published bimonthly) and ProTeste Health (monthly), which are not sold in newsstands, and through them we disseminate the results of comparative tests performed by the organization with a series of products and services, in order to provide consumers with Information and guide them in their purchases and when contracting services, besides publishing articles of interest in various areas.
? Members Service: support and guidance about consumers? rights and intermediation with companies that do not comply with CDC (Consumer Defense Code), in the search of an out-of-court settlement, achieving high success rates. More than 70.000 contracts were settled.
? Comparative Tests and Research: More than 5.900 items were evaluated ? from food commodities to financial services. Dissemination of results through our magazines and website. Notification of competent authorities, regulatory and monitoring agencies when ruling is inappropriate, incomplete or inexistent, as well as when we find dangerous, unsafe or tainted products;
? Prosecution of Public Civil Actions: credit cards, phone services, Banks, tainted products, etc.;
? Participation: with Public Hearings and Public Consultation, related to Consumers Rights;
? Media: through radio spots, interviews to newspapers, TVs and sites of interest, always for providing consumers with assistance and guidance about the issues on focus.
Over the years of operation, we released 108 issues of ProTeste Magazine, 34 issues of Money& Rights Magazine and 03 issues of ProTeste Health Magazine, which regularly bring articles with practical tips that help consumers in choosing the best products and services on the market.
We achieved several victories through those ten years, like empowerment of arguments for automobile safety, campaigns against consumption accidents and in favor of healthy food for children, CET ? Custo Efetivo Total (Real Total Cost), Terms of Adjustment of Conduct signed between the Public Prosecutor?s Office and AMBEV. We also expressed ourselves by means of
several different ways, including legal ones, in favor of the users of wire line and wireless telephony services, pay TV and electricity. Besides, through comparative tests of products and services we were able to identify needs for updating rules so consumer?s safety and rights could be improved. Several laws and technical Standards have been changed in Brazil due to PROTESTE work. Our most important achievements are:
? Implementation of conveying Information about the Real Total Cost in financial operations;
? Demands in order to include airbags as factory-set features in all vehicles manufactured in
Brazil from 2014 on;
? Creation and implementation of a national data bank for consumption accidents;
? Charging of differentiated electricity rates for the low-income population.
The activities of PROTESTE show their impact in society mainly through raising their awareness. Brazilian consumers have a power that they do not realize at times, especially due to the ascension of the working classes, since our consumer market has surpassed that of developed countries. This way, by following our comparative tests, by choosing higher-quality products and services and the ones that offer the best cost-benefit ratio, by demanding them to become safer and more environment-friendly, our consumer becomes more discerning and help improve all citizenship relationships, not only those related to consumption.
Our work is not important for our associates, but for all Brazilians. Next we show numbers related to the population assisted by PROTESTE, organized by type of service:
? More than 70.000 calls for legal advice, from our 250.000 associates;
? More than 11.000 mediations between consumers and companies, showing an average of
75% of satisfactory solutions;
? 250.000 associates and their families receive the magazines published by PROTESTE (different age groups are benefiting);
? 250.000 associates and consumers throughout society benefit from our actions with the Prosecutor?s Public Office and the Judiciary (when needed, through Civil Public and Collective Actions);
? 250.000 associates and consumers throughout society benefit from our contributions to
Public Hearings (federal, state and municipal Legislative Power);
? 250.000 associates and consumers throughout society benefit from our contributions to
Public Consultations (Regulatory Agencies);
? 250.000 associates and consumers throughout society benefit from the Campaigns and Projects we develop (at times in partnership with other civil and public organization) for implementing the improvements demanded by the consumer market;
? 250.000 associates and consumers throughout society benefit from the warnings and Information we provide consumers by means of different media (radio spots, interviews to newspapers, radio stations, TV channels and websites).
II. CAMPAIGNS AND PROJECTS
Campaigns and Projects focused on education for conscious consumption, prevention of accidents, demands for improvement of public policies, financial education, quality of life, etc.
? Campaign Healthy Feeding from an Early Age and Forever
? Campaign against Liquid Alcohol
? Project for Prevention of Consumption Accidents
? Campaign for Lowering the Rates for Basic Wire Line Subscriptions in contracts for fixed telephony
? Campaign Care for School Bags
? Campaign There is no Age for Living with Quality Live (focused on the elderly)
? Campaign Transparency in Financial Services
? Campaign Plastic Money is Money
? Campaign for Mandatory Sale of Fractionated Medicine
PROTESTE, being aware of all the activities being developed in various fronts ? as we believe we have thoroughly listed here, is, in fact, the biggest independent non-governmental organization for consumer defense in Latin America. For being representative all around the country, PROTESTE is able to mirror, clearly and precisely, consumers real needs, as well as some of the woes and difficulties in the quest for improvement in products and services in the market, looking for a balance, so strongly stated in the National Policy for Consumption Relationship, as highlighted in Article 4th of the Code for Consumer Defense (Law 8078/90).
PROTESTE has also been consolidating its position and being recognized in the national scenery, due to its capacity of media mobilization ? as it has also been pointed before -, that sensitizes and guides public opinion, feeding opinion makers in our country with serious and objective Information.
III. RATIONALE OF THE PROPOSITION AND ITS RELATIONSHIP WITH THE SCOPE OF RIO+20 AND EXPECTATIONS
Having introduced the work we have been performing in the scope of Consumer Defense in our country, PROTESTE is able to actively cooperate to the debates of The United Nations Conference for Sustainable Development -? Rio+20.
Protecting the environment and the consumer are principles of the economic order, as stated in Art. 170 from the 1988?s Constitution of Brazil. The ways for such protection, both of the environment and of the consumer are the same, being based in human dignity and quality of life, taking into account the intergenerational fairness. Being hierarchically under the Federal Constitution, The Code of Consumer Defense is also applicable to Civil Public Actions concerning to environment damage. In that sense, Article 3rd of the Law of Civil Public Action, Law no. 7.347/81, provides for a unified system for protection of the environment, consumers, assets and rights of artistic, aesthetic, historic, touristic and scenic value, to any other diffuse or collective interest, by infringement of the economic order and popular economy, to the urban order. Therefore, the ?diffuse interests? approach makes a clear link between consumption and environment.
Accordingly, it is impossible today to think in protection of the environment dissociated to the protection of the consumer. The main topic of Rio+20, the ?Green Economy?, and all its correlated issues, have been object of our acts and researches. We believe in the concrete contribution of PROTESTE for the priorities established as scope of the Conference, especially energy, sustainable production and consumption (waste, disposal and recycling), impact of pollution and health. A holistic perception of consumer and environment protection are seen, and shall the joint agenda lead the desired sustainable development.
Intending also to follow-up specific aspects of Brazilian legislation, PROTESTE has signed a partnership for research with the Group of Applied Studies to the Environment: preventive and reparative supervision of environmental damage, from the Law School of São Paulo University. It?s a group constituted by 8 researchers and 4 students, coordinated by lead researcher Associate Professor Patricia Faga Iglecias Lemos, who has published books on the environment area, especially ?Solid Waste and Civil Responsibility pos consumption?. Professor Lemos have been doing research on prevention and repair of damage to the environment. The Group has taken part on the Workshop Climate and Health in Megacities, held in São Paulo on April 9 and 10, 2011 at FMUSP, acting in the Working Group about Waste, and proposing actions for mitigation and
adaptation to climate changes, concerning to waste management in the cities and impacts to health. As a consequence of such workshop, the Group took part of the C40 Large Cities ? Climate Summit 2011 Conference, held in São Paulo from May 31 to June 3, 2011, in which the Charter of Recommendations on Health was presented. It is important to mention that the Group members Patrícia Faga Iglecias Lemos (leader), João Múcio Amado Mendes and Ana Carolina Corberi Famá are co-authors of the document mentioned above. The Group has also taken part of an international research, in partnership with Institute ?The Right for A Green Planet?, as part of the project Law and Climate Changes in Amazonian Countries, whose objective is stimulate the development of regulatory tools related do climate changes in Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela, all of them part of Amazon Cooperation Treaty. Group components and data as well as their curriculum might be seen at the national resumé database ?Currículo Lattes?, at (www.cnpq.br).
The United Nations Program for the Environment (Pnuma) has described Green Economy as a system of activities related to production, distribution and consumption of goods and services that leads to improvement in human welfare in the long term. Such improvement must take into account the preservation of natural resources as well as the use of the least environmentally- harmful productive processes, leaving behind an economic model that prioritizes a production that is dissociated to preservation. Changing that economic model depends on the important role played by the consumer; When well informed, the consumer can make better choices that take into account consumption patterns and reflect on environment protection.
In order to insert Green Economy to its priorities, PROTESTE develops actions and initiatives that improve human welfare and social justice, as well as reduce significantly the environmental risk and the risk of shortage of natural resources. Our tests and analysis aim to show to those that are part of the production and consumption chain - manufacturers and importers, traders and representatives, consumers and authorities - the methods used in the production and their consequences, so that sustainable development is enhanced on its environmental, social and economical aspects. The benefits of sustainable production and consumption spread through the whole society, not being restricted only to the individual consumer of a good or service. For that purpose, PROTESTE stimulates Sustainable Consumption, providing the customer clear, visible, systematic and efficient Information about products and services.
Sustainability is, no doubt, a matter of perspective. Therefore, only an Economy based on renewable energy sources and closed substance cycles can be sustainable. The expectation is that the Conference will propitiate new partnerships and commitments from the estates, which should consider the current economic model and consequently its sustainability. For that, the principles of Rio/92 that support such model should be revisited. ?The principle of sustainable development should be understood in line with the other principles of environment protection. The goods that bring economic, social, cultural, and political development are the same that are important for a healthful quality of life. For that reason, there is no sense in a disordered development, which harms the environment?. 1
As well clarified by Enrique Leff, the command and control system, as a set of rules, is not enough to prevent entropic degradation. ?It is necessary to head to a sustainable development paradigm taken from eco-technological processes, based on the productive potential of living systems and of the cultural organization, which means, a process of participative management and collective appropriation of nature?. 2 In such sense is the work of PROTESTE inserted, enabling the consumer to make better choices.
1 LEMOS, Patrícia Faga Iglecias. Meio ambiente e responsabilidade civil do proprietário: análise do nexo causal. São Paulo: RT, 2008, reprinted, p. 59-60. (Environment and Civil Responsibility: analysis on the causal link)
2 See LEFF, Enrique. Racionalidade ambiental: a reapropriação social da natureza. Rio de Janeiro: Civilização
Brasileira, 2006, p. 207 e 208 (Environmental Rationality: social reappropriation of nature) and LEMOS, Patrícia Faga Iglecias. Resíduos sólidos e responsabilidade civil pós-consumo. São Paulo: RT, 2011, p. 41. (Solid Waste and post-consumption Civil Responsibility).
Among the priorities indicated as goals of Rio+20, we listed 3 main themes, highlighting the comparative tests intended to be made and their rationale, as reported below:
? Energy: the issue of energy is a priority for enabling Green Economy. It?s important to work with quality standards for products that are linked to the levels of environmental impact. In that sense, art. 9th of Law no. 6.038/1981 (National Policy for the Environment) foresees incentives to implementation on equipment and technology developed for the improvement of environmental quality, which allows the incorporation of environment- friendlier technology, as well as the correct waste disposal, loss control and reduction in the use of toxic substances, aiming to preserve natural resources. PROTESTE tests are relevant for they analyze the energetic benefits and provide the consumer with correct Information.
Sustainable Production and Consumption (Waste, Disposal and Recycling): the choice of the issue considers the importance of the contributions of green economy for eradicating poverty, as well as the need for the consumer to be correctly informed on how to perform waste disposal. The reverse logistics was foreseen in Law no. 12.305/2010 (National Law for Solid Waste) for the following products: pesticides, their waste and packaging, batteries, tires, lubricants, their waste and packaging, compact fluorescent lamps, sodium steam bulbs, mercury and mixed lamps and electronic devices and their components. Therefore, testing products and monitoring the implementation of such a new system is justified, to provide the necessary Information to consumer. It is important to emphasize that as stated by Decree 7.404/2010, which regulated the mentioned law, after the implementation of the reverse logistics, the consumer who disobeys the established obligations can be charged, if it is recurred, to be liable for environmental violations, being punished with fine varying from R$50,00 to R$500,00, which may be converted in services for preservation, improvement and environment quality repair. On the other hand, considering the need for eradication of poverty, tests linked to reverse logistics system should consider the existence or not of partnerships between manufacturers and/or importers and pickers cooperatives, as well as social and laborer conditions and compliance of labor laws.
? Impact ? Pollution and Health: Preventing pollution depends on changes in equipment and in productive processes, with higher efficiency of supplies (raw material, energy and water, etc). It means reduction in the origin, changing productive processes that will bring benefits to the consumer and to the environment. Regardless of legal requirements, companies can adopt such practices, adding value to the business.
The selection of the mentioned aspects took into account their relevance in the scope of the priorities of Rio+20, their inter-relationship and the desire for seeing the purposes of the Conference being met.
Considering that PROTESTE is associated to Euroconsumers ? European Association, to Consumers International ? organization that brings together entities for consumer protection from all over the world and is a member of ICRT ? International Consumer Research and Testing, independent organization that also unites associations of consumers from all over the world, with the view of stimulating cooperation in research and comparative tests, our Brazilian experience can also be shared with other countries, aiming to a cooperation that shall bring global results that enable sustainable development.
IV. TESTING SCHEDULE FOR 2012: energy, waste disposal and impact to pollution and health
PT 110 ? February/ 2012
Analysis of energy consumption when in standby mode. The difference in energy consumption among brand is really high. The idea is to warn consumers about that difference, so the choice may be done for a product that spends less natural resources and also provide tips on how to use the product without damage to the health, like using it only with specifically designed material for microwave ovens.
Analysis of the products, in order to inform the consumer which of them adopt safer chemical processes and environmentally clean ones, based on the investment in methods that mitigate environmental impact, like reduction in the use of energy and water, more efficient production generating less waste and prevention of pollution and reduction on the emission of volatile organic compounds (VOC).
Studies on reverse logistics and proper disposal are planned. Verification if manufacturers and importers have adjusted their productive process to Law no. 12.305/2010. It states the reverse logistics of electronics, and the need for informing addresses of collection stations for the disposals and post-used products.
Lubricants for cars:
Warn the consumer about the correct disposal of this product, including its packaging, showing that there is already recycling possibility for this kind of lubricant.
Show the consumer which of the products are certified by FSC or Cerflor, lobbying for governmental investment that makes certified Wood become more competitive compared to the non-certified, increasing its consumption potential.
PT 111 ? March/ 2012
Show the consumer the measures that have been already taken in order to reduce the pollution caused by cars: banning the use of lead in gasoline, limiting its volatility, using of reformulated gasoline, limiting the use of sulfur content on diesel, etc. as well as the changes that still haven?t been made. Warn the consumer of the cleaner types of fuel.
PT 112 ? April/ 2012
Evaluate the areas on the coverage of the sewerage system in Brazilian cities. Comments and discussions about the link between the United Nations Millennium Goals for water, sanitation and consumers are made.
Comment on the impacts of its production and disposal to the environment. Focus on health, prevention and toxicity of products.
PT 113 ? May/ 2012
Assess the durability of the product, showing the consumer the concept of obsolescence planned by the manufacturer.
Analyze energy consumption. Evaluate water pressure compared to bath time as to quantify the consumption.
Comment on the impacts of its production and disposal to the environment. Focus on health, prevention and toxicity of products. Verification if manufacturers and importers have adjusted their productive process to Law no. 12.305/2010. It states the reverse logistics and the need for informing addresses of collection stations for the disposals and post-used products.
Show consumers the quality of the air in their city and an overview, that will be build based on data from INEA and CETESB, from 2009 to now. Alternatives for a healthier life in the city, ways to reduce pollution, ways to reduce stress, etc.
Show consumers ways to make the dwelling-place become more sustainable, providing tips to reduce heat and energy consumption and increase comfort and air quality without the need for remodeling.
PT 114 ? June/ 2012
Reverse Logistics and correct disposal. Verification if manufacturers and importers have adjusted their productive process to Law no. 12.305/2010. It states the reverse logistics of electronics, and the need for informing addresses of collection stations for the disposals and post-used products.
Checklist for traveling:
Focus on sustainability, benefits that tuning the car bring to the environment.
Show consumer the products that contain chemical components that may impact negatively the environment, such as water pollution. We could provide a homemade recipe, environment-friendly, for window cleaner.
PT 115 ? July/ 2012
Energy consumption will be analyzed. Verification if manufacturers and importers have adjusted their productive process to Law no. 12.305/2010. It states the reverse logistics of electronics, and the need for informing addresses of collection stations for the disposals and post-used products.
Reverse Logistics and correct disposal and energy consumption. Verification if manufacturers and importers have adjusted their productive process to Law no. 12.305/2010. It states the reverse logistics of electronics, and the need for informing addresses of collection stations for the disposals and post-used products.
Warn consumers about the impact of production to the environment. Value the producers who minimize socio-environmental impact to the farming communities, stimulate sustainable production and social responsibility.
Self ?tanning products:
Comments on the impact of disposal and production for the environment. Focus to health, prevention and toxicity of products.
PT 116 ? August/ 2012
New or Second-hand Cars:
Compare environmental impact of second-hand cars, pollution and fuel consumption of old engines with the impact of waste production when the engines are not reused and the impact of manufacturing new cars.
Verify which products are biodegradable and the potential impact to the consumer and to the environment.
PT 117 ? September/ 2012
Energy consumption will be analyzed. Verification if manufacturers and importers have adjusted their productive process to Law no. 12.305/2010. It states the reverse logistics and the need for informing addresses of collection stations for the disposals and post-used products.
With the inclusion of this product in the PBE (Brazilian Labeling Program), manufacturers, in order to reduce energy consumption and be granted with positive evaluation at the Energy Saving Procel Seal, have been reducing the quality of the product. In the tests, washing capability of the machine in a single cycle will be evaluated. An overview of older models will be shown.
Reverse Logistics and correct disposal and energy consumption. Verification if manufacturers and importers have adjusted their productive process to Law no. 12.305/2010. It states the reverse logistics and the need for informing addresses of collection stations for the disposals and post-used products.
Show the evolution of batteries so they contain less toxic material and the correct way for their disposal in order not to pollute the environment.
PT 118 ? October/ 2012
Liquid Coconut Soap:
Comments on the impact of disposal and production for the environment will be made. Focus to health, prevention and toxicity of products.
Warn consumers of the impact of large-scale production of soybean in Brazil to the environment. Value the producers who minimize socio-environmental impact to the farming communities, stimulate sustainable production and social responsibility.
PT 119 ? November/ 2012
PT 120 ? December/ 2012
Energy consumption will be evaluated and tips on how to increase efficiency of the air conditioner, like temperature and correct placing, will be given. Air quality will be analyzed, verifying interval between filter cleaning and if there is difference among brands.
Issue of the cooling gas used (no-polluting, ecological gas). Reverse Logistics and correct disposal. Verification if manufacturers and importers have adjusted their productive process to Law no.
12.305/2010. It states the reverse logistics and the need for informing addresses of collection stations for the disposals and post-used products.
Warn consumers of the impact of large-scale poultry production to the environment and address the issue of humane slaughter.
The United Nations Conference ? Rio+20 brings new opportunities to revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development, relevant to the participation of governments, international organizations, non-governmental organizations, experts for the implementation of local, regional and global solutions. It is necessary to work out the efficiency mechanisms for economic activity, with quantitative and qualitative minimization, with less polluting raw-material, renewable energy and reduction of use of natural resources in the productive process, among other issues. Regarding to disposal, the priority order is: non-production, reduction, reuse, recycling, waste treatment and adequate final disposal.
As established at Principle no. 10 of Rio/92, the best way to approach environmental issues is by making sure that all citizens interested are able to take part in the discussions, in appropriate levels. For that, it is essential that Information is made accessible, and PROTESTE has widely disseminated through its researches.
Considering such aspects, PROTESTE believes it is inserted and capable of taking part in the discussions of the Conference, being able to contribute to the Green Economy and the implementation of cooperation mechanisms.