Foreign Distance Sellers of Batteries & Packaging

Distance selling

February 2017

As detailed in the EU Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive, companies selling packaged products directly to end-users in a particular EU Member State could only be legally obligated to provide for the collection and recycling of the products waste packaging if that company were located within the country of sale.

The same applies to any sales of batteries; as detailed in the EU Batteries Directive. Companies selling batteries directly to end-users (this applies to loose batteries and batteries that are permanently integrated into electronic products) would only be legally obligated to provide for the collection and recycling of the batteries, once these batteries arise as waste, if that company were located within the country of sale.

Reality

Each EU Member State needs to transpose the requirements of European Commission Directives into their national regulations. It is becoming increasing evident that particular Member States are not only adopting the requirements, they are going above and beyond the specifications of European Directives by applying legal obligations to foreign companies.

A foreign company selling a packaged product directly to an end-user in an EU Member State may have a legal obligation to provide for the collection and recycling of the waste packaging even though they have no registered legal entity in the country of sale. – The same applies to companies who sell batteries (either loose or integrated).

Reasoning

The reasoning behind particular Member States extending the application of legal responsibilities for packaging and battery sales stems from the EU Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive (as Recast).

This Directive makes it mandatory for EU Member States to apply obligations to foreign companies (for sales of Electronics); as such, particular Member States have also applied this obligation to packaging and batteries by default.

Enforcement & Summary

Almost half of EU Member States have detailed the aforementioned obligations in their national batteries regulations and a handful of countries have done so for their packaging regulations. Therefore, whilst the European Commission Directive’s may not class your company as a liable party; there may be provisions in national regulations that your company are legally responsible to fulfill.

It has become increasingly apparent that governing authorities in particular EU Member States have begun to actively work together to apply enforcement proceedings against companies that are not fulfilling their legal responsibilities in the country of sale.