by Renee

4 min reading time

What is EPR? The Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) in Europe

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what is epr

We have talked before about waste laws in Europe. In the article on the VerpackG and the ElektroG the focus was primarily on Germany. Do you sell in Germany but don’t remember exactly how it was? Read it article Then go through it again carefully. We also cover in those articles the mandatory EPR registration you need with Amazon.

But did you know that actually every member state in the EU has its own EPR system? And what exactly is EPR? We’ll dive into EPR with you based on some guiding questions.

Where does the EPR come from?

Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) is not a new concept. It originates in EU legislation, namely the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive (PPWD). This directive establishes a legal framework for the treatment of waste within the European Union. It aims to protect the environment and human health. Since the directive does not specify how EPR is to be implemented by member states, practices differ in terms of the division of responsibilities and costs for the collection and sorting of packaging waste among the actors involved.

What is EPR, exactly?

The EPR is a policy tool that makes producers responsible for the entire life cycle of their products. They are responsible not only for design and production, but also for product take-back, recycling and ultimate disposal. The ultimate goal is an economic incentive system that encourages producers to design products that are easier to reuse or recycle.

Why is this relevant now?

Recent legislative developments have introduced important requirements to ensure greater harmonization and better enforcement of EPR systems across the EU. While currently most but not all member states have implemented EPR systems, the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive requires all member states to implement EPR systems for packaging by 2024. Thus, these specific developments already apply to verkopers who use packaging for their products, which therefore makes it relevant for e-commerce sellers like you!

What kind of waste is it about?

EPR categories cover a wide range of products, including batteries, end-of-life vehicles (ELV), graphic papers, oils, packaging and electronic waste (WEEE).

But as an ecommerce seller, what should I do with this?

As an e-commerce vendor, you are required to register with the appropriate government agency and/or authorized scheme/program, fund waste collection, recycling and recovery, and provide reports on the quantities of products/materials you market. These obligations vary worldwide, so it is essential that you research the EPR laws for each country in which you do business.

What is my tax return based on?

The fees declared and paid by producers/importers are based on the weight (per ton) of packaging material placed on the market. Again, EPR systems should help encourage packaging that is designed, produced and marketed in a way that promotes reuse of packaging or high-quality recycling and minimizes the environmental impact of packaging and packaging waste.

What about all the different member states in Europe?

Since the PPWD does not specify how EPR should be implemented, practices vary from state to state. This means that the responsibilities and costs of collecting and sorting packaging waste vary depending on how each country has set up its EPR system. We would like to give you a few examples of different EPR practices:

  • In France all producers must register for packaging waste if they produce waste in France. You must obtain a UIN number by registering with the ADEME. Usually, registration goes through a producer responsibility organization (PRO) that is responsible for obtaining the UIN number on your behalf. To do this, however, you must again first provide all information about the company with supporting documents and the volume of packaging used for the year.
  • In Germany, you are required to register with the Zentrale Stelle Verpackungsregister (ZSVR) and depending on the type of EPR products. You are also required to register with the proper authority to obtain a registration number. In fact, there are several category-specific laws such as the packG, ElektroG and BatterieG. There is also a special register for packaging, the LUCID Packaging Register. All manufacturers and retailers are required to comply with the provisions of the new German Packaging Law. The regulations therefore apply to anyone supplying packaging to Germany.
  • In Spain, producers are held responsible for packaging. You are then expected to complete the following steps:
    • 1. Register for a Spanish NIF tax number if the company does not already have one.
    • 2. Register with one of the approved Producer Responsibility Organization (PRO) and obtain a membership certificate.
    • 3. The PRO chosen by the company will help manufacturers register with the Ministry of Environmental Transition and Demographic Challenges of Spain (MITECO), which then issues the EPR number.
    • 4. Make periodic payments to the eco-operator based on its rates and waste volumes (license fee).
    • 5. Submit reports on the amount of packaging marketed for each production year.
  • In Slovakia packaging law again applies to manufacturers and distributors, importing and packaging or filling products. Here, as a producer with the help of the Ministry of Environment, you must register with the National Register of Obligated Parties to receive the registration number (EPR). Producers or distributors must have contracts for take-back arrangements and a minimum contract period of 2 years with Eco-operators. Producers are required to make eco-contributions in the amount set by the government. A quarterly report must also be submitted, even a zero report with the quantities of packaging.

And what does this look like in the future?

With the growing focus on sustainability and a circular economy, it is expected that EPR regulations will be expanded and made more stringent. This will likely lead to more categories (read: products) falling under EPR. There is also a chance of higher recycling targets and stricter product design requirements in the near future. And since each member state gets to set up its own system for that, it will be interesting to see how we as entrepreneurs will soon be in!

Help!

Do you need help with this, or simply don’t have time to figure it all out? If so, don’t hesitate to contact Staxxer for free, tailored advice. Our experts are ready to help you navigate the complex laws and regulations so you can focus on growing your e-commerce business.

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