Environmental compliance… the latest developments

What are the latest developments concerning environmental legislation globally? We’ve picked out some highlights for you for December 2020.

New battery law in Germany from 2021

Germany’s new battery law comes into force on 1st January 2021. As the joint take-back scheme, Stiftung GRS, was abandoned at the beginning of this year, there will be competition between manufacturer-owned schemes in the future, which may result in numerous questions.

Due to the fact that Landbell Group is an operator of manufacturer-owned take-back schemes, we have created a FAQ section on our website with answers to these questions, along with further information about which rules and processes will continue as they are in Germany and which ones have changed. Click here to read the FAQs.

Following the approval of the German parliament a few weeks ago (see article from previous COMPASS), the amendments to the German battery law have now been published in the Official Journal. They will thus enter into force on 1 January 2021 as planned.

Among other things, the new battery law provides for an increase in the collection rate of waste portable batteries to 50% and the abolition of the so-called joint take-back scheme, Stiftung GRS, mentioned above.

The official publication of the amendments can be found here. A consolidated version of the new battery law, which includes both the amendments and the unchanged provisions of the old battery law is currently being prepared.

Revision of German packaging law

The German government has published a draft amendment of the country’s packaging law which aims to implement certain requirements of the European Single-Use Plastics (SUP) Directive and Article 8a of the revised Waste Framework Directive, and to update other provisions of the law. The draft still has to be approved by both the government and parliament.

The requirements of the SUP Directive are implemented almost exactly. From 2025, for example, certain disposable plastic drinks bottles must have a minimum recyclate content of 25%. However, Germany plans to expand the already existing deposit return scheme for certain single-use plastic beverage bottles and cans to all bottles and cans regardless of the drink they contain.

In order to improve enforcement of the extended producer responsibility (EPR) regulations set out in the packaging law, online marketplaces and fulfilment service providers will have to ensure that retailers are registered with a packaging scheme. In addition, manufacturers based outside of Germany will also be able to appoint an authorised representative.

Moreover, the draft clearly aims to clarify that composite packaging will continue to be allocated to the corresponding main material type. An amendment to the law which came into force at the beginning of October 2020 initially introduced a different definition of composite packaging (see article from the October edition of COMPASS).

In parallel, the European Commission is also working on a new legal framework for packaging. The planned revision of the Packaging Directive focuses on waste prevention and updated packaging design requirements also ensuring that, by 2030, all packaging is reusable or recyclable in an economically viable manner as envisioned in the EU’s plastics strategy.

The Commission has recently launched a public consultation on the subject, which will run until 6 January 2021 (see article from previous COMPASS).

European Commission to improve the uptake of recycled content

The European Commission is developing options for the calculation, verification and reporting of recycled content. Its Directorate-General for Environment has just commissioned consultancy firm Eunomia to carry out a new study on this topic. Landbell Group company European Recycling Platform (ERP) participated at a recent online stakeholder workshop hosted by Eunomia, where the outline of the study and the working packages were discussed.

The goal of the study is to assist the Commission in developing a set of options to:

The study is triggered by the European Green Deal and the new Circular Economy Action Plan which both make commitments to increase the recycling of plastics, boost the uptake of recycled content and, thereby, reduce the use of virgin materials.

The project will run over the next two years. Three additional stakeholder workshops are planned for March, June, and September 2021 which ERP will contribute to and attend.

New report on producer responsibility of third-country producers in e-commerce

Germany’s Environment Protection Agency (UBA) has published a new report on the producer responsibility of third country producers in e-commerce. Third country producers are companies that are not based in Germany, but deliver products to consumers in the country.

The report looks at the growing problem of how to hold third-country producers responsible for managing their end-of-life products and packaging when selling products to Germany through electronic marketplaces.

This is a topic the European Commission will also address in its upcoming EPR guidance to EU member states as this is a pressing issue in all EU countries.

At present, neither the operators of electronic marketplaces, nor the fulfillment service providers have any obligations under Germany’s WEEE, battery and packaging legislation.

Given the growing amount of third country products making their way into Europe through these platforms, UBA proposes to assign new roles to online retailers and fulfillment service providers and to legally require them to check whether producers are fulfilling their producer responsibilities and are properly registered with the responsible authorities.

The full report can be downloaded here.

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