Revised Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Act Finally Entered Into Force 24 October 2015

The revised Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Act (Elektro- und Elektronikgerätegesetz – ElektroG) has entered into force yesterday, 24 October 2015.

Last Friday, the revised Elektro- und Elektronikgerätegesetz (ElektroG) was finally published in the Federal Law Gazette.

Back in March, the government had adopted a bill presented by the Environment Ministry (BMUB) to belatedly transpose Directive 2012/19/EU on waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) into German law. Directive 2012/19/EU should have been transposed by 14 February 2014. The first reading in the Bundestag took place on 21 May 2015.

On 28 May 2015, the European Commission referred Germany to the EU Court of Justice over its failure to transpose the WEEE Directive. The revised WEEE rules are intended to prevent or reduce the negative environmental impact from this fast-increasing waste stream. The rules are based on a revision of the previous WEEE Directive, and they incorporate a number of new or substantially modified provisions. As Germany had failed to transpose the Directive,  the Commission asked the Court, on the basis of the procedure set out in Article 260(3) TFEU, to impose a penalty payment on Germany in the amount of EUR 210,078 per day until the law is enacted.

The second and third reading of the bill in the Bundestag took place on 2 July 2015. The Federal Council on 10 July 2015 decided not to raise objections agains the revised ElektroG.

In light of this, one wonders why it took another 3.5 months before the revised law was promulgated. And then the law enters into force the day after publication in the Federal Law Gazette. The net result is that the government was 1.5 years late in transposing the Directive, and now the affected companies have to comply quickly. This is another good example why for companies it no longer enough just to be on top of currently applicable laws – they also have to closely monitor what the government should have been doing and how late the government is with its implementation. Because at the end, the companies will have to comply, with less time to work on getting it done.

The revised Directive modernises previous legislation, making it fit for purpose and more forward-looking. It introduces an ambitious new collection target of 45 % of electronic equipment sold that will have to be met in 2016 and, as a second step in 2019, a target of 65 % of equipment sold or 85 % of WEEE generated. The new rules make registration and reporting requirements easier for Member States, with better tools to fight the illegal export of waste more effectively. They also introduce a clear link to EU legislation on product design, including the Eco-design Directive, encouraging manufacturers to improve the design of electrical and electronic equipment, making it easier to recycle.The revised law intends to increase the collection of WEEE to 65% by 2019, recycle more valuable secondary raw materials and dispose of residue in an environmentally friendly manner. To this end amendments of the Elektro- und Elektronikgerätegesetz (ElektroG) inter alia oblige large commerces, including e-commerce, to collect WEEE. The scope of the law shall be extended to include solar modules.

Source: Bundesgesetzblatt I 2015, page 1739

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