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Crack down on WEEE & Batteries non-compliance in Ireland

Crack down on WEEE & Batteries non-compliance in Ireland

Lisa Dean Profile Image
by Jordan Girling, September 2018
Jordan assists companies to identify their legal exposure to national WEEE, Batteries and Packaging legislation across Europe and in countries where the company is obligated, assesses the company’s sales arrangements and product types to provide cost-effective and legally-robust recommendations for compliance.
When compared to other EU Member States, Ireland has always been notorious when it comes to enforcement of WEEE and Batteries Regulations. Ireland boasts some of the most severe penalties for non-compliance in Europe; under the Waste Management Act, non-compliance with WEEE provides for penalties up to €500,000, three years imprisonment, or both.

Paying back-dated compliance fees

Additionally, when first implementing WEEE or Batteries compliance arrangements in Ireland, producers must declare whether they had legal obligations in previous years but had failed to register as a producer. If so, the producer must pay back-dated authority registration fees and if necessary, back-dated compliance scheme membership fees and Authorised Representative service fees covering as many years as they have had legal obligations under WEEE and Batteries Regulations. This is as opposed to the past three years which is much more common practice in other EU Member States. 

These back-dated fees often cause the cost of first implementing WEEE and Batteries compliance arrangements in Ireland to run into tens of thousands of euros. 

Introduction of Fixed Payment Notices (FPNs)

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in Ireland has been given new powers to enforce the requirements of national WEEE regulations (S.I. No. 149/2014) and national batteries regulations (S.I. No. 283/2014). 

As well as the enforcement provisions provided under the Waste Management Act (as detailed above), the EPA can apply FPNs (Fixed Payment Notices). FPNs are essentially on-the-spot fines; this allows the EPA to apply swift enforcement action without long-winded processes. FPNs can be issued for various offences, including: 
  • Failing to register as a producer: €2,000
  • Failing to meet reporting obligations: €500
  • Failing to display a registration number on invoices, credit notes and websites: €500
  • Failure for a producer of batteries selling via distance communications to display (where batteries are being distributed i.e. websites and catalogues/brochures) information on take-back of batteries: €500

The EPA has also stressed the importance for producers to provide information to end-users. Not providing adequate information to end-users is an offence under the WEEE and Batteries Regulations in Ireland and this can itself now attract FPNs. Specifically, producers must: 
  • Mark products with the crossed-out wheeled-bin symbol
  • Inform end-users that WEEE is not to be disposed of with other waste
  • Inform end-users of the return and collection systems available. This includes offering take-back of WEEE when supplying a new product (i.e. the concept of 1:1 take-back). 
  • Display a ‘Statutory Notice’ at the producers premises explaining that the producer has a plan in place which details how WEEE, for which the producer is responsible, will be collected, stored and treated (for detailed information on the specifications of the Statutory Notice, please contact EC4P directly).  

Additionally, in regards to professional-use equipment (B2B; Business-to-Business), producers are responsible for ensuring that the WEEE treatment operator/s that are being used can achieve minimum recovery targets. The EPA advises that producers obtain a letter from their WEEE treatment operator/s which confirms that minimum targets can be met.  The letter should be requested  by the producer annually, be on company headed paper, and be signed by a manager of the company. 

A formal EPA publication on Fixed Payment Notices can be viewed here.

Enforcement Proceedings 

EPA expects to start issuing FPN’s in Autumn 2018 and will run annual audit campaigns to check on producer compliance. The EPA has stated that it plans to fully utilise its powers to issue FPN’s to non-compliant producers.

In regards to back-dated registration fees, it is currently unclear whether the EPA will charge FPNs, as well as back-dated registration fees, upon initial registration.