Newsletter: May 2019

The latest news regarding WEEE, e-waste, battery and packaging compliance

French Battery Discounts

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As part of French government policy, battery schemes in France have been directed to reward producers of more environmentally considerate battery chemistries with a bonus.  The objective is to financially incentivize preference for more ‘eco-conscious’ batteries to encourage producers to adjust the design of their products to choose more sustainable alternatives.

Batteries that qualify have certain qualities such as good economic value for recovery of the raw materials, especially for materials such as Cobalt, and battery life time as well as other features.

Discounted battery chemistries include:

  • Lithium accumulators using cobalt instead of secondary lithium accumulators. The reduced fee is 0.456 Euro per kg instead of the usual 0.479 Euro per kg. Examples are LCO (Lithium Cobalt Oxide), NMC (Lithium Nickel Manganese Cobalt) and NCA (Lithium Nickel Cobalt Aluminum)
  • Eco-versions of Alkaline batteries, which are those containing recycled materials. This does not apply to regular Alkaline batteries. The reduced fee is 0.360 Euro per kg instead of 0.372 Euro per kg.

Screlec, a French battery recycling organisation, is the first in France to implement the discounted fees for batteries with appropriate eco-criteria. Although the fee reduction is relatively small, the difference can add up, especially for large producers, and it is a good policy direction to encourage production and use of batteries that have more sustainable characteristics.

Brexit Update

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The official date for the UK to leave the EU is now October 31st of 2019 and, despite a great number of uncertainties, Accerio is able to provide some guidance based on probable outcomes. The good news is that it is likely that little will change for WEEE and battery waste management when Brexit does happen.

Some key known facts:

  • Regardless of any deals agreed on, once the UK leaves the European Union, it will no longer be an EU member state and UK entities will from that point on be regarded as Non-EU Entities.  There may be further extensions of the deadline affecting when this occurs, and also the possibility too that Article 50 may be rescinded and Brexit called off.
  • All EU laws are being transposed into UK law, so that, at least temporarily, the same targets and obligations will be applied to those selling EEE and batteries in the UK. Of course, in time, the UK could choose to follow a different route to the EU.

Those who may see significant changes due to Brexit are companies with UK based legal entities who sell to other countries in Europe, because some countries have different regulations and requirements in place for EU entities as compared to non-EU entities.

For example:

  • A local Authorized Representative is required by any EU entity that sells into Denmark, France, Ireland, Portugal or Sweden in order to register and report. Non-EU entities do not require one.
  • Taking over Reseller responsibilities in Czech Republic, Finland, France, Portugal and Sweden is permissible to EU entities only. After Brexit, any current UK based entities will no longer be able to do this and will need to advise their affected resellers that they will need to be able to register and report for themselves.
  • If any country is using a UK-based certification scheme for EU compliance, such RohS certification or the CE mark, they will no longer be authorized to do this after Brexit. Any EU-wide standard mark can only be issued by a company registered in an EU member state. The certification schemes will likely have a plan in place to ensure their continued authority after-Brexit, but please do ensure you have checked this.

In the event that a deal is struck allowing the UK to retain a semi-EU status, similar to EEA members, it is possible that the UK could be viewed as a 3rd Party country and included in some EU requirements, such as AR requirement for UK based entities.

In the meantime whilst all wait for a final decision, here are some helpful documents both the UK government and the EU have released advising businesses on the changes that will come if no deal is agreed upon.

UK guidance: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/how-to-prepare-if-the-uk-leaves-the-eu-with-no-deal

EU Guidance: https://ec.europa.eu/info/brexit/brexit-preparedness/preparedness-notices_en

EU Guide for non-food and non-agricultural products: https://ec.europa.eu/info/sites/info/files/file_import/industrial_products_en_1.pdf

EU Non-Food and non-agricultural FAQ: https://ec.europa.eu/info/sites/info/files/qa_brexit_industrial_products_en.pdf

The Benefits of Compliance

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The EU WEEE and batteries directives are critical to the sustainable management of the electronic and battery waste streams that have grown at an astonishing rate. It is anticipated that by 2020, in the EU alone, more than 12 million tonnes of electronic waste will be generated that year. 

The three pillars of sustainability- People, Planet, and Profit – are fundamental to the spirit of intention behind the WEEE and batteries directives.  These laws help to protect the health and well-being of everyone involved. Extended Producer Responsibility helps fund the management of all this waste according to the ‘Polluter Pays’ principle.

Waste electronics and batteries that end up in landfill contaminate soil, water and air, as toxic raw materials such as heavy metals and other compounds used in their manufacture, seep into the environment.

Transportation of WEEE and waste batteries to countries where regulation is poor or absent, impacts heavily on the health and well-being of vulnerable people who are employed in backyard ‘recycling’ operations where they are exposed to heavy metals and other contaminants.

Waste can be a valuable source of raw materials, especially as the scarcity of specific metals and minerals increases manufacturing and mining costs. And as recycling technologies improve, there are increasing economic benefits to the efficient re-use of these commodities.

Europe 2020’s growth Strategy aims to lead to a more resource efficient Europe, and compliance with the WEEE and Batteries Directives supports the objectives towards building a more sustainable society. Through the financing of recycling programs, producers contribute to better health and well-being of humans, animals, and plants by preventing landfill of electronics and batteries. Producers also benefit from the economic and logistical efficiencies through the recycling of valuable raw materials, especially as some of these materials become more scarce and prices increase.