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Why is Germany the highest risk EU country for recycling compliance?

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by Dean Cogger, April 23rd, 2020

Dean is an EC4P Compliance Consultant helping companies identify their legal exposure to WEEE, Batteries and Packaging legislation and providing cost-effective and legally-robust recommendations for compliance.


Sphera EC4P has helped over 100 companies recycle thousands of tonnes of WEEE, batteries and packaging in Germany for over 10 years. As part of our recent EU compliance risk assessment (and interactive map!), we identified Germany as the highest risk country when considering registration and reporting challenges, and the consequences of non-compliance.

With the biggest economy and largest population in the EU, access to the German market is key for most businesses and manufacturers. Germany has some of the most comprehensive Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) regulations in the world, and a record of strict enforcement. Between 2007 – 2015, 68,000 cases of non-compliance were reported to the Federal Environment Agency.  To avoid fines and stop-sells, it is essential to understand the complex requirements for registration and reporting.    

WEEE (e-waste)

The complexity of registering WEEE in Germany – and meeting the requirements of the ElektroG – was given the highest risk rating (5). Producers will face numerous challenges when registering with the authorities.

Firstly, the obligation for WEEE begins when the EEE is offered for sale, not only when the product is actually sold. It is illegal to place EEE on the market without approval from the regulatory authority Stiftung EAR and a WEEE registration number must be provided on all sales invoices. This means it is important to understand your obligations and the process of registering long before you plan to start business. Furthermore, in EC4P’s experience, Stiftung EAR has longest approval process in Europe, it can often  take more than  three months to be approved/rejected.

Registration is legally required for both producers of both business (B2B) and commercial (B2C) EEE, as well as distance sellers. Distance sellers without a legal presence in Germany must contract the services of an Authorised Representative. Any business that plans to sell B2C products must also provide an insolvency-proof guarantee. 

To add to the difficulty, in Germany the registration onus is on the products themselves (more so than the producer). There must be a separate registration per brand and product type. Detailed information about the products, high quality images and prospective sales quantities must all be submitted as part of the registration.

One issue that producers often overlook is the unique fact that passive devices must also be registered in Germany, separately from the products they accompany. Extension cables (such as HMDI, extension reels, USB), light switches, power sockets, aerials, adaptors/jacks, and components such as fuses all fall within the scope of passive devices.

With the many unique challenges and a long approval process , many producers face delaying their product sales in Germany because they were too late to start understanding and implementing compliance arrangements. 

Packaging

In January 2019 the German Packaging Act (VerpackG) replaced the well-established German Packaging Ordinance (VerpackV), bringing significant changes and making packaging compliance in Germany even more challenging than before.

Producers (including manufacturers, distributors and distance sellers) of all packaging must complete their registration with the central authority (Zentrale Stelle) via the LUCID system before placing any packaging on to the German market. There are no small producer exemptions. Companies placing packaging on the German market before registering can  be fined up to €200,000. Companies are required to provide their company name, address, contact details, identification and tax registration numbers, as well as product and brand names. Registration through the LUCID portal can be done online, but must be completed by the company itself. The portal is only available in German and can be difficult to navigate; EC4P’s consultants have created a guide to help.

There are three types of packaging in Germany – sales, transport and grouped – so a producer must know which categories their packaging falls into  prior to registering. Packaging is also defined by whether it ‘typically’ becomes waste in private households, or sites ‘comparable to private households’. Interpreting the loose definitions can be a challenge for producers. Examples of comparable sites include offices and professional premises.

In addition to the registration, all producers of sales packaging that ends up in private households or comparable sites must join a “Dual System” i.e. a compliance scheme. The breakdown of packaging placed on the market by material and volume must be reported to both the Dual System and Central Authority, so there is double the reporting to do. If a producer is placing more than 80 tonnes of glass packaging, 50 tonnes of paper / board, or 30 tonnes of other materials on to the market, there is an additional reporting requirement: the Declaration of Completeness. 

Batteries

While relatively less complex than WEEE and Packaging compliance in Germany, Batteries compliance can still be challenging.  The BattG requires producers of all portable and industrial batteries and accumulators (regardless of chemistry or use) to register with the electronic battery register that is maintained by the Federal Environment Agency. Furthermore, non-EU domiciled companies that are distance selling batteries are also required to register. A further complication is that,  unlike in other EU countries, you cannot register batteries that are integrated into EEE products within your WEEE registration; the batteries must be registered separately. 

Conclusion

Sphera EC4P's team of Recycling Compliance Consultants have carried out a compliance risk assessment and developed an interactive risk rating map to help you better prioritise your company's approach to WEEE, Batteries & Packaging compliance across Europe. Find out more info about Germany and all other EU countries by downloading our Country Compliance Profiles and get notified when we extend our compliance risk rating map to cover other continents and territories.

Sphera EC4P is very experienced in helping companies meet the unique compliance challenges in Germany and the rest of Europe. Read case studies here or contact us to find out how we can help your company overcome these challenges. 

Sphera is the leading provider of Integrated Risk Management software, data and consulting services with a focus on Environment, Health, Safety & Sustainability (EHS&S), Operational Risk Management and Product Stewardship.

Sphera EC4P is managed and run by:

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