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    PRODUCT STEWARDSHIP – FROM DESIGN TO END OF LIFE SAFE. COMPLIANT. DISPOSAL.

The ElektroG from the perspective of manufacturers

The Electrical and Electronic Equipment Act (ElektroG) has been implementing the European WEEE directive in German law since 2005. The ElektroG defines the requirements for product stewardship in accordance with the Recycling Management Act for electrical and electronic equipment (EEE).

The aim is to protect the environment and human health by preventing and reducing waste of electrical and electronic equipment. Promoting the reuse by extraction of secondary raw materials contributes to resource conservation.

Electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) as defined in the ElektroG

  • Devices that need electric currents or electromagnetic fields in order to work properly.
  • Equipment for the generation, transfer and measurement of such currents and fields which are designed to operate with an AC voltage not exceeding 1,000 volts or DC voltage not exceeding 1,500 volts.

Who is considered a manufacturer?

In terms of the ElektroG a manufacturer is any person who, irrespective of the sales method, including distance communication, commercially

  • Manufactures equipment under his own name or trademark and offers the products for sale in Germany or offers equipment for sale in Germany, which he has manufactured on his behalf under his name or trademark.
  • Resells equipment from other manufacturers under his own name or trademark in Germany without the trademark or on the name of the manufacturer appearing on the device.
  • Offers first-time imported equipment for sale in Germany or is located outside Germany and offers equipment for sale directly to end users in Germany.

What obligations do manufacturers have to meet?

  • Registration at the "joint enterprise of manufacturers" as defined in the ElektroG, the register of waste electrical and electronic equipment foundation (stiftung ear).
  • Labelling the equipment with the "crossed-out wheeled bin" symbol.
  • Compliance with the requirements on product design.
  • Documentary proof of insolvency-proof warranty.
  • Legally compliant reporting.
  • Return of WEEE.
  • Information obligation to private households.

What costs will manufacturers incur?

As part of the amendment the Fees Regulation (ElektroGKostV) was also rewritten by the Federal Ministry for Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB). The new version is aimed at supporting the new regulatory framework with a view to the charging of fees and the new regulations in the ElektroG.

In addition to the inclusion of new and the merging of existing fee elements, there are also adjustments in fees. So the fees for registrations have increased, for example, whereas the cost of collection and preparation for pick-up arrangements has dropped as part of the collection coordination regime.

What penalties exist for non-performance of obligations?

An administrative offence is deemed to have been committed by any person who, contrary to the provisions of the ElektroG, intentionally or negligently brings electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) on the market, offer for sale or import such products. The administrative offence can be punished by a fine of up to € 100,000.

What future obligations come into force with the amendment?

The amendment of the ElektroG, which entered into force on 24 October 2015, gives rise to numerous changes for the manufacturers of electrical and electronic equipment. There will be an open application of the ElektroG, which applies to all electrical and electronic equipment, at the end of the transitional period on 14.08.2018.

Contrary to the previous regulations of the ElektroG, night storage heaters, photovoltaic modules and lights from private households now also fall under the act. Since the amendment, night storage heaters have to be registered, while photovoltaic modules and lights from private households have to be registered within a transitional period by 25.02.2016.

Reduction on 6 product categories

Starting on 15.08.2018, a transition to the "open application" with a reduction of the previously known 10 types of equipment to 6 types of equipment will take place. These are:

  1. Heat exchangers
  2. Screens, monitors and equipment containing screens with a surface larger than 100 cm² 
  3. Lamps
  4. Large appliances (with at least one outside dimension > 50 cm)
  5. Small appliances (with at least one outside dimension < 50 cm)
  6. Small IT and telecommunication devices (no outside dimension < 50 cm)

Manufacturers should provide for an early adjustment of the categories in their IT systems and processes.

What are b2b devices?

b2b devices (business-to-business devices) are EEE that the manufacturer or the authorised agents can demonstrate that they will only be used in establishments other than private households or that such electrical and electronic equipment are not usually used in private households.

As b2b devices may not be dropped off free of charge at public waste management authorities, neither a comprehensive nationwide disposal under the EAR collection coordination regime nor an insolvency-proof guarantee must be demonstrated for these devices. Also, the reporting requirements for b2b devices are less strict.

Decisive for the b2b classification of a device is not the distribution channel, but the location of possible use. b2b devices are therefore almost exclusively electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) meant for commercial or industrial use, which make their domestic use impossible or at least unlikely, for example, because of their intended use, special requirements for their use such as qualified personnel or because of their size.

Agent

With the enactment of the ElektroG2, manufacturers of electrical and electronic equipment, who distribute their EEE directly to end-users, have the duty to instruct an agent to carry out their extended manufacturer obligations towards the stiftung ear, unless they have a branch office in Germany.

In terms of § 8 ElektroG, any reliable and capable legal entity (natural or legal) established in Germany can act as an agent. It must be noted that manufacturers may appoint only one agent for all its trademarks and types of equipment.

An agent is registered when a manufacturer does not have a branch office in Germany, nor does he want to establish one. In this case the "foreign" manufacturer cannot assume his obligations by himself, but he must instruct an agent who accepts these statutory obligations.

"Foreign" manufacturers who do not sell their EEE to direct end-users, but to a reseller, for example, may however meet the extended manufacturer obligations in a similar way on a voluntary basis.

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