Germany’s WEEE regulations 2016 deadlines affecting UK companies and distance sellers

Germany transposed the WEEE directive (WEEE II) late last year and the new Electrical and Electronic Equipment Act (ElektroG 2) came into force on 24 October 2015.

To find out more about the new Electrical and Electronic Equipment Act (ElektroG 2)

However, Germany allowed some new provisions to come into effect in stages, with delayed deadlines throughout 2016. For example, the requirement for foreign producers to appoint an Authorized Representative and the introduction of WEEE takeback obligations for large retail and online shops.

Are UK companies impacted by this?

If your company offers delivery or sells directly to customers in Germany through distance communication methods (such as an online store, email, phone or catalogues), then you may need to take action. Here are the three key questions UK companies need to consider under the German WEEE regulations:

1.  Is your company currently registered for WEEE in Germany?

According to Stiftung EAR, the German WEEE register and central authority, there were 143 UK companies registered in 2015 which may appear small, but is in fact after the Netherlands, the third largest country group of WEEE registered producers in Germany.

Under the new WEEE regulations, registrations of non-German companies are no longer accepted and existing “foreign” registrations technically expired on 24 April 2016.

By that date, companies selling into Germany from abroad were required to either have set up a German legal entity or appointed an Authorized Representative to re-register the company and act on its behalf. Selling into Germany without a valid WEEE registration is illegal.

In a recent statement on the Stiftung EAR website, it was confirmed that the deadline for foreign registrations to be renewed had passed, but that the existing registrations would not, as previously feared, expire automatically at the end of April 2016.

The German WEEE authority will now contact previously registered producers abroad, the UK included, to give these companies the opportunity to either make a statement explaining why they should no longer be registered or to request a re-registration through their appointed Authorized Representative.

Any communication you may receive from Stiftung EAR should not be ignored – their statement calls this first reach-out to companies abroad a “Hearing”, a legal term which constitutes the first step in a “Misdemeanour” proceeding under German administrative law.

Failure to respond will lead to cancellation of the existing WEEE registrations in Germany after which companies can be pursued under German administrative and anti-competition law.

2.  Should your company be registered for WEEE in Germany?

Do you sell direct to German customers (B2B or B2C) or simply offer delivery to Germany either through your website, or via phone, catalogue or other mail-order?

Through a change of wording in the definition of “producer”, under German WEEE law the obligation starts when a company “offers” electrical or electronic equipment (EEE) for sale.  This means that if your website or catalogue currently allows for delivery to Germany you could already be obligated.  This is because registrations at the German WEEE authority are never instantly approved, in fact far from it.

Separate registrations - needed for the Authorized Representative (in case of selling from abroad), the producer, each brand that this producer sells and the financial guarantee (B2C only) - can each take up to 8 weeks to be finalized at Stiftung EAR.  Without an approved registration, producers may not sell EEE to German customers.

3.  Does your company have direct take-back obligations as an (online) retailer or distributor?

Waste takeback obligations will begin from 27 July 2016 and affect distributors and retailers with a sales space (“stationary” retailer) and storage or distribution space (online retailer) of > 400 m².

A 1:1 take-back obligation applies if a similar type of new equipment is purchased, a 0:1 take-back obligation applies for all small EEE without purchase of a new item (size limit of 25 cm corner length).

Both 1:1 and 0:1 obligations affect distributors of B2C EEE (note that dual use is also in effect in Germany), however distributors of B2B are also impacted, in this case by the 0:1 obligations only.

Although the 400 m² space limit applies to locations in Germany and not to warehouse operations situated abroad, companies selling from the UK must take the following two points into account:

  a)   Do you have any storage or distribution space of > 400 m² in Germany?

            If yes, you may have an obligation as a producer and distributor in Germany.

  b)   Do you sell through a fulfilment service, such as amazon or eBay?

           If yes, you must clarify whether this service has a storage or distribution space of > 400 m² in Germany, as
           this could obligate you for online retailer take-back.

In addition, selling through a fulfilment service does not automatically remove your obligation as a producer in another country; it is still your company’s responsibility to comply with national WEEE regulations.

Obligated online retailers and distributors must register their take-back facilities with the German WEEE authority Stiftung EAR and report annually on collection, treatment and where applicable recycling of any WEEE taken back from customers.

Not sure where to start? We can help!  We can clarify whether your company is currently registered with the German WEEE authority and advise on the next steps your company should take.

Our International Consultancy service can support you in clarifying your obligations in Germany and the rest of Europe and can help you with registration and reporting requirements.

Contact our team of specialists now to book a free consultation on your compliance requirements outside the UK at info@ecosurety.com or call 0845 0942228.

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