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EU Regulation Tackles e-Commerce Non-Compliance

The rise of online shopping has previously posed difficulties for producer responsibility, with many products placed on the market through e-commerce sites avoiding national producer responsibility obligations.

New EU regulation will now require online marketplaces to take responsibility for compliance documentation. Known as ‘fulfilment centres’, e-commerce sites can currently sell goods made outside of the EU without any extended producer responsibilities.

Coming into effect in 2021, the “regulation on market surveillance and compliance of products” will tackle non-compliance by manufacturers who avoid packaging and waste obligations by selling online. The regulation will apply to the laws on packaging waste, waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) and batteries.

Online sellers will have to ensure there is evidence of compliance with the relevant producer responsibilities for non-EU manufacturers selling on their sites. It requires companies to appoint an economic operator in the EU who must verify that compliance documentation has been prepared and is available for market surveillance authorities.

The Market Surveillance Regulation is part of the EU’s ’goods package’, which is designed to harmonise product safety across the single market, so that only compliant products are available. It applies to a wide range of legislation affecting electrical products, including the Low Voltage and Machinery Directives, and RoHS/REACH. It also includes compliance with extended producer responsibility directives on waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE), packaging and batteries.

Chris Taylor, Commercial Manager at Clarity Environmental, said: “We have seen fast expansion of online sales in recent years and current legislation has not been effective in taking account for this, with some sellers not registered with EPR as they have no legal entity in the country where products end up. This new EU legislation will assist to ensure more effective and fair compliance. We now await news of whether the UK Government will implement the requirements of the new regulation when the UK leaves the EU.”

Resources and Waste strategy proposal for online marketplace

Last year, a National Audit Office report criticised the Environment Agency’s lack of action on marketplace non-compliance. The UK government has since outlined a proposal in the EPR consultation for online marketplaces to take responsibility for the packaging of any imported products they facilitate the sale of. It would ensure the online marketplace is responsible for the compliance of all products where it facilitates the import into the UK.

Our approved producer responsibility compliance schemes for packaging, WEEE and batteries can handle your producer responsibility obligations on your behalf. Contact a member of our compliance team on 0845 129 7177.

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