Following last week’s introduction to assessing your compliance obligations in Germany, this second blog outlines requirements and options for both B2C and B2B producers.
Firstly, let’s address one of the biggest differences between the German and UK WEEE compliance systems, because this will affect your whole approach to producer compliance, from registration to data reporting and waste takeback.
There are no WEEE compliance schemes in Germany
Germany has its own “legal red lines”, and anti-competition is one of them. This is particularly relevant when we talk about enforcement of WEEE in the next blog, but it is also the reason why there are no WEEE compliance schemes in Germany. German anti-competition authorities opposed this in 2004 and the system as it is today developed from that decision.
What does this mean in practice? Essentially producers cannot delegate their obligations to a compliance scheme and WEEE compliance remains the individual obligation of each and every producer, although there are service providers that will support most activities.
Principally, once you know you are obligated, everything will depend on how you answer the following two questions:
1. Do you have a legal company presence in Germany?
If you have no company presence in Germany then you need to appoint an Authorised Representative (AR) to comply. The AR will then take on all the obligations (incl. registration, data reporting; waste takeback and financial guarantee where this applies) and charge an annual fee for this service.
2. Do you sell B2C or B2B EEE, or both?
Registering for B2C differs from B2B. If you are completely new to this, then here are three phrases you should get familiar with – they will crop up regularly from now on!
Collection coordination: Nationwide collection system, managed by Stiftung EAR (B2C requirement)
Financial guarantee: Finance held in case of producer insolvency (B2C requirement)
Prima Facie evidence: Registration procedure, providing information on B2B products (B2B requirement)
Your first obligation is to register with Stiftung EAR
Because you cannot pass this task on to a compliance scheme, the only option is to register direct with the authorities, Stiftung EAR, although you could contract a consultancy to support you.
This is recommended in any case if you do not have a German speaker handy to submit the registration for you (Ecosurety does!). Registration is managed exclusively in German. This is not to irritate English-speaking producers, but a legal requirement.
Registration is per producer (or AR), equipment type (WEEE category) and for each brand you sell. Producers must provide supporting documentation with their registration, typically picture material (showing the brand and products you’re registering) and German product manuals.
Stiftung EAR reviews and approves each registration – this is why it can take up to eight (and sometimes 12) weeks to be finalised – and they may ask you to re-register a product if they disagree with your product categorisation.
In addition, you will need to provide the following when registering:
If you’re selling B2C
You must provide a financial guarantee in case of insolvency, per equipment type you’re registering.
Producers can chose between individual or collective guarantees, and there are a number of guarantee providers you can contact for quotes. Guarantees are based on annual estimated weights per equipment type placed on the market, renewable each year, and they can be amended as required throughout the current calendar year.
If you’re selling B2B
You must demonstrate why you have scoped your products as B2B instead of B2C.
This is done via a Prima Facie (first impression) evidence procedure that needs to accompany the registration, detailing (amongst a number of things) the intended function and use of the product, providing an explanation why these products would not typically be sold to households.
It’s important to make a strong case when submitting a B2B registration, as Dual Use provisions could mean that your product is classed as B2C by the German WEEE authorities after all – and B2C compliance is significantly more difficult than B2B.
Once the registration is concluded, the absence of WEEE compliance schemes really starts to impact producers, because if you cannot hand your waste takeback obligations to a scheme it naturally follows that you must look after it yourself.
Nationwide waste management required for B2C EEE
B2C producers must participate in Stiftung EAR’s “collection coordination”. EAR uses an algorithm that generates regular “pick up and provision notifications” to B2C producers, which require producers to pick up waste at random civic collection sites in Germany (that’s the pick-up) and to provide an empty container for the next WEEE collection (that’s the provision). Clearly, you will need a waste management company to perform these tasks.
B2B producers meanwhile are obligated for B2B EEE placed on the market after 13 August 2005, and their commercial end-users are obligated for anything placed on the market before that date – although alternative arrangements are permitted.
Getting to grips with your data requirements
Data must be submitted – yes, you’ve guessed it - directly to Stiftung EAR.
B2C producers must report monthly by the 15th, in tonnes placed on the market per WEEE category. These categories are aligned to categories 1-10 from the WEEE Directive (and will accordingly reduce to six in 2018) but unlike UK data submissions, there are a number of subcategories you’ll need to consider when maintaining your data for Germany. This affects all categories but mainly cat. 1, 3, 4, 5 and 7 (e.g. in cat. 3, mobile phones, displays, printers and cameras each have their own category). A separate report on exports is also required monthly.
An annual report is due for B2B and B2C producers by the 30th April, and this concerns placed on the market and exported amounts (B2B), as well as data on WEEE takeback and treatment (B2C and B2B).
The latter should be provided to you by the waste management company that either fulfilled the collection coordination (B2C) or waste collection direct from customers (B2B) throughout the previous year.
Top three tips for managing your WEEE compliance in Germany
There is a lot to digest and get to grips with, that's for certain, but the main three things to consider are as follows:
1. Pick the right compliance partner
Whether you need to appoint an AR, a consultancy to support with registration, or a waste management company: do shop around. We recommend contacting at least three providers for quotes and to confirm what service they provide. You can use this blog to ask the right questions!
2. Consider your AR options
Your AR does not necessarily need to be a separate service provider. If you do have a German based company entity – even if it fulfils a completely different business function - you could explore if this entity may act as AR for a foreign based one.
The advantages are clear - no separate AR service cost and German speaking staff to hand, managing registration and data reporting.
3. Ensure you have all the information and understand the impact
Have you displayed your German WEEE registration number on all invoices and on your website for example? Have you considered whether you need to offer in-store takeback if your retail or storage space exceeds a certain size? And what about obligations under batteries or packaging legislation?
Coming up in part three
Join me next week for the final part of this series, when I’ll be talking about enforcement, scoping differences and retail waste takeback obligations.
See you then!
Not sure where to start or need more information?
We can offer consultancy to help producers find the right compliance partner in Germany, or provide regulatory overview sheets, detailing all requirements and options.
For details or samples, please contact our team of specialists by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 0333 4330 370.
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