You would like to meet your Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) and avoid penalties? Many distributors are often not sure whether and to what extent they are affected by which EU regulations. As experienced experts, we at CERTIFY clarify such questions in our information sessions on a daily basis.
Find essential answers to the most common and important questions about extended producer responsibility, around EPR obligations, registration processes, labeling, authorizations, as well as country specifics.
EPR - Obligations & Penalties
The acronym EPR stands for Extended Producer Responsibility.
As a result of the EPR regulations, the polluter pays principle now applies to disposal and recycling: The distributors bear the costs and must ensure on their own responsibility that they comply with the legal requirements.
In addition to packaging, EPR also applies to textiles, batteries and accumulators, cosmetics, chemicals, shoes, furniture, and electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE). These areas are only an excerpt. Contact CERTIFY if you want to know if your products are in the scope.
Extended producer responsibility (EPR) is a strategy to reduce the environmental impact of products throughout their life cycle. The purpose of EPR is to make manufacturers responsible for the disposal and recycling of products after they have reached their useful life.
The idea is that manufacturers have an incentive to produce more environmentally friendly and recyclable products, since they are responsible for disposing of the products and therefore have to bear the cost of disposal.
The various requirements oblige you to
- Registration with the national competent authorities. Only then are you allowed to import a product into the country.
- Payment of disposal fees depending on the quantity you export to the respective country. For this purpose, a quantity report is required in advance.
- Labeling and information requirements on packaging to inform end users how to maximize recycling, and minimize environmental damage.
As there is no central authority within the EU, you must carry out EPR registration separately in each area and for each member state. If you are a direct seller without a branch in the country of destination, you will usually need an authorized local representative, who is liable for you, administers the contracts with take-back systems and communicates with the offices in the respective national language.
Obligations specifically in Germany are – depending on the product – for example the registration with the foundation EAR (Elektro-Altgeräte-Register) as well as the registration with the packaging register LUCID plus the participation in a dual system.
If you place goods on the market for sale in the European Union, you must deal with EPR.
You should check your EPR obligations if you
- … manufacture products
- … import products
- … are an (online) retailer and sell products
A prerequisite for the obligations is that the respective country does not exclude your participation in the registration. Such an exclusion is now only applicable in very few cases, but for example in Italy, in the area of packaging, as you need to have a branch there for financial reasons in order to meet the statutory requirements for participation in packaging take-back. Similar exceptions also exist for distributors of batteries. Similar exceptions also exist for distributors of batteries. However, they are to be completely eliminated with a long-term perspective in mind.
There are no exceptions in the area of electrical appliances. In principle, you are therefore obliged to do so in every country to which you distribute.
In the area of packaging materials, there are also “de minimis limits” (minimum thresholds) in a few countries. These state that registration only becomes a requirement from a certain sales volume in Kilos or turnover in Euros per year. These quantities vary from country to country and in a few cases the de minimis limit does not exclude from the registration obligation, but only from having to pay disposal fees calculated on a quantity basis.
Let us discuss your products, quantities and distribution structure in order to evaluate possible exemption cases without obligation, so that you do not take any risks!
A manufacturer whose products do not allow any conclusion that he is the actual manufacturer is not obligated in any case. In this case, the customer of this producer who provides the product with his own brand or has the product designed and manufactured under his name is considered the manufacturer.
A distributor is any legal or natural person who makes products available on a market for the first time with the intention of distributing them to consumers. Consumers in this case are both professional end users and private consumers. “Making available” includes any provision of a product for distribution, consumption or use in the course of a business activity, whether in return for payment or free of charge. Offering a product (in an online store or in other ways) is therefore already included.
In other words: If you want to advertise a product, you must already provide proof of registration. Until the registration is successful, a sales ban applies by law. If you do not want to advertise your products in a certain country, you would not be legally allowed to operate an online store or offer in the language of that country, or you would have to explicitly exclude the shipment of products to that country.
Yes, there are. The penalties are set by law in each country and can vary depending on the violation. The penalties are:
- if you are not registered
- if you do not submit correct, complete or timely reports
- if you do not pay disposal fees or charges correctly, completely or on time
- or if you violate the labeling and information requirements
Penalties are calculated depending on the severity of the violation and the magnitude of the damage. The usual penalties range from €1,000 to €10,000 per violation. This also means that if two products are not reported, a penalty can be as high as 2 x 10,000 €. The penalties can also be set retroactively for past years.
The guidelines for extended producer responsibility in Germany are set out in the Packaging Act (VerpackG), the Battery Act (BattG) and the Electrical and Electronic Equipment Act (ElektroG). This results in various obligations for products and their packaging. You can find out more here EAR or here LUCID.
By reading blogs, subscribing to news and keeping up to date by researching countries and areas – in theory. This is enormously time-consuming and, depending on the language of the country, difficult to do, not to mention the problems that can arise with translations. That’s why, as a service provider, we see it as our duty to keep you up to date on a regular basis. If you are a customer of ours, we will keep you informed about the countries and areas that are relevant to you, so that you have time for adjustments and flexibility. For this, we use our regular customer meetings, or blog posts and newsletters.
We support you with your obligations
Do you need advice or support in fulfilling your obligations according to producer responsibility? We take care of your international and national environmental compliance and proactively provide you with the latest info on laws!
Registration - EPR national and international
Registrations must be made with various take-back systems and authorities. For almost all areas of EPR, there are different systems in all countries that you have to choose between. So you need to contact several systems if the requirements of different EPR areas apply to you. Choosing the right systems for your needs can become quite complex, depending on the country.
If you sell smartphones in Germany, you have a choice between a dozen service providers (in terms of insolvency-proof warranty and take-back coordinations) in Germany for electrical equipment, as many dual systems for packaging, and some take-back systems for batteries.
The duration of registrations varies from system to system and depends on the current staff workload there. As a rule, however, it is several weeks. For this reason, it is important to have the right contact person at your side.
EU labeling and information requirements
Labeling obligations differ from country to country and vary depending on the EPR area. Therefore, you can find the labeling obligations in various places. Partly for public download, partly only by login at systems or authorities and sometimes only with existing contract with the system or successful registration in advance.
We possess all the files and the expertise and can therefore shorten these paths for you. However, an individual analysis is always a prerequisite to ensure that the labeling obligations are used correctly and completely. Feel free to contact us for an informal initial consultation.
Basically all – except for particularly small ones, which cannot meet the minimum size requirements of the legislators for the markings. To get an idea of your legal obligations, it is therefore particularly important to define your products and their packaging requirements precisely or to consult an expert.
Yes, but the exception affirms the rule. Not in every country or area is this allowed or there are certain requirements for the stickers. Exact details can only be given after looking at your individual case.
This depends on national circumstances such as deadlines and transition periods, but also on when the products and packaging were manufactured, first placed in storage or first placed on the market. This is a time-critical issue that may require quick action to avoid penalties, high costs and effort. As experts for national and international labeling obligations, we are happy to help you!
In most cases, the responsible systems or authorities of the countries offer to check the markings using image files. However, not all of them do this and, moreover, a check usually takes several weeks, depending on the scope. So it may take several months before you have the correct markings available for use.
Yes, especially in Scandinavia. You can find them here. Let us know what you distribute and where, and ask us your questions, and we can tell you more.
Generally, there is no charge to use them, as they are important information for consumers to help protect the environment. In a few cases, usage fees or licenses are required.
Distributors without a national office are increasingly required to provide an Authorized Representative (ARO) to assume liability for compliance with the law to systems and authorities on behalf of the distributor and its legal obligations. This obligation to appoint a ARO comes from national laws.
Most national laws now require an agent if you do not have an establishment in the country. CERTIFY offers to provide the “BV” as part of the full service. This provides you with everything from a single source and allows you to connect to systems and authorities or exclude them at any time: Just let us know where you want to distribute or stop your distribution. For further questions about our services, always feel free to contact us!
Legal texts and country specifics
Unfortunately, there is no central place that publishes all laws. This is only the case with regard to the higher-level EU directives. You can only find the laws on the corresponding websites of the national authorities.
The regulations and applications in France are more extensive and complicated than in any other European country. While in Germany there are EPR obligations only for packaging, batteries and electrical appliances, in France there are currently 17 product areas that fall under producer responsibility and require EPR registration – more than in any other European country. And there are also specific requirements for information and labeling obligations on products as well as packaging. You can read more about this in our blog post on the French market.
3 steps to compliance - with CERTIFY
We know that achieving compliance in all the countries you distribute to is a major challenge. For that, you have us! As EPR experts, we open up our knowledge of processes and specific knowledge to you, so that you can take care of your day-to-day business.
And not only that: If you wish, you can hand over all tasks to us and receive national and international legal security – without risks, with maximum transparency. We register you in all countries and all areas, and you get a personal contact who takes care of your concerns immediately and informs you about updates.
1. Analysis and Clarification
During the non-binding conversation, we analyze your individual obligations and priorities and answer your questions.
We are there for you in the planning and implementation of your duties.
3. Full Service
You give us the power of attorney, we take care of the rest. The only thing you then have to do is to report the quantities to us. We take care of everything else - from initial registration to regular quantity reporting.
If you have any questions about your duties, details about France or our services, do not hesitate to contact us at any time by phone, email or our contact form. We are looking forward to your request!