Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) and the Brexit – Distributor Obligations in the UK.

Illustration England Brexit
The UK's exit from the European Union has been marked by many disagreements, delays and other issues. The return to sovereignty has implications not only for European workers, but also for companies that trade with England or have their products manufactured there. The EU's EPR requirements stipulate that as a manufacturer or distributor, you are responsible for financing take-back, sorting and recycling of materials brought onto the market by yourself. Find out what will change for you as a producer as a result of Brexit with regard to EPR in this article.
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WEEE obligations after Brexit and applicable (national) laws

The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive aims to prevent e-waste by encouraging and financing recycling, reuse, and repair. Valuable raw materials and secondary materials are thereby preserved, and a circular economy is created, leading to less waste and a reduced need for new raw materials. The EU directive is to be implemented by producers and distributors.

Brexit currently has no impact on WEEE obligations. EU environmental laws will continue to be respected, as these were converted into national laws before the UK left the European Union. So if you manufacture, sell or import electrical products in the UK, you will have to comply with the same requirements as before Brexit. This also applies if you are an online retailer and supply your goods to customers in the UK.

Obligations under the Packaging Directive after Brexit and applicable (national) laws

From January 1, 2021, the European Packaging Directives will no longer apply in England and will be replaced by the Packaging Regulations of 2015. This law is extended by “The Waste (Miscellaneous Amendments) (EU Exit) (No. 2) Regulations 2019“, which governs the removal and replacement of the EU legal requirements.

For packaging in which food is delivered, the following applies: the producer from the EU must be able to prove an address in the UK and indicate it on the label of the packaging. The EU emblem, on the other hand, must be removed from the packaging. If you are trading in organic products, you must also replace the EU organic label with a national label that is valid in the UK.

Obligations under the Battery Directive after Brexit and applicable (national) laws

The UK’s exit from the trade alliance means that many benefits that have made it easier for companies to import and export across national borders will no longer apply. This also applies to manufacturers of vehicle batteries, for which an import tax was established under the UK-EU trade agreement if the battery was not manufactured in the UK or EU.

The foundation for the UK battery regulations are the Batteries and Accumulators Regulations 2008, which state that batteries and accumulators must be collected and recycled and must not be incinerated or disposed of in landfill. So if you want to sell power cells to or in the UK, you must comply with these regulations. The regulations also state that batteries must be easily removable, properly labeled, and contain no banned substances.

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What do these changes mean for manufacturers and retailers?

If you think through the previous information, you will see that the area of packaging and batteries has seen the most changes. For manufacturers and distributors based in Germany, this means more work. For example, it may be necessary to appoint an authorized representative in the UK so that you have a national address. All in all, Brexit has made cross-border trade more difficult and undermines the uniformity that was an important reason for establishing the EU.

Are there still current (transitional) deadlines or will UK laws change in the future?

The planned reform of the EPR in the UK has currently (2022) been delayed again, as the responsible authority DEFRA wants to give the affected companies more time to implement the reformed regulations. The entry into force of the amended law has therefore been postponed until 2023. Among other things, it stipulates that distributors and manufacturers will bear the full cost of disposing of single-use plastics, as well as plastics that cannot be recycled.

It is possible that the UK government will make further changes to the laws regarding WEEE, packaging and batteries in the future, as one reason for the Brexit was the desire for greater self-determination in the drafting and passing of laws.

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