What it means for you
The reform of the German Batteries Act has entailed, in particular, new obligations for anyone who places batteries on the German market. It is important to understand that while the Batteries Act imposes such obligations on "manufacturers," this term, in the meaning of the law, does not only comprise battery producers, but also importers, authorized representatives of non-EU-based producers and even distributors and resellers of batteries, provided no one else has properly registered as a manufacturer of the batteries they sell.
The most relevant aspects of the revised Battery Act are as follows:
- Anyone who places batteries on the German market must previously register as "manufacturer" with the Foundation EAR (Stiftung Altgeräte-Register). This obligation has replaced the former, less burdensome, mere notification obligation with the Federal Environment Agency (Umweltbundesamt, "UBA").
- The registration process is administered by Foundation EAR, which is also responsible for the administration of all registrations of manufacturers of electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) under the German law implementing the Waste from Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive. Stiftung EAR's electronic database has been extended to also allow the registration of battery "manufacturers." Companies that are already registered as manufacturers of EEE may amend their current registration to also cover batteries. According to the Federal Government, around 60% of manufacturers should be able to benefit from the synergies between the batteries and WEEE administration.
- Manufacturers, which are not established in the EU, may appoint an authorized representative established in the EU.
- The amended Batteries Act has abolished the former non-profit Common Collection System and replaced it with the requirement for each manufacturer to set up and operate its own take-back system, which must be approved by the competent authority. Manufacturers may join a system which is operated by multiple manufacturers or by a third-party on their behalf.
- Finally, the revised Battery Act has transposed into German national law certain minimum requirements for extended producer responsibility schemes as adopted by the amended Waste Framework Directive. These minimum requirements include, for example, that manufacturers have the necessary financial and organizational means to meet their take-back obligations under the amended Batteries Act.
Actions to take
The above-described changes require amendments in the supply chain activities of companies placing batteries on the German market. These include, inter alia, the mandatory requirement to set up or join a manufacturers' take-back scheme and to register with Stiftung EAR. Distributors and resellers have to make sure that the batteries they market have been duly registered - or they will become, by operation of law, responsible for any non-compliance under the new Batteries Act.
* * * * *
This client alert is prepared for information purposes only. The information contained herein should not be relied on as legal advice and should, therefore, not be regarded as a substitute for detailed legal advice in the individual case. The advice of a qualified lawyer should always be sought in such cases. In publishing this alert, we do not accept any liability in individual cases. Baker & McKenzie - Partnerschaft von Rechtsanwälten und Steuerberatern mbB is a professional partnership under German law with its registered office in Frankfurt/Main, registered with the Local Court of Frankfurt/Main at PR No. 1602. It is associated with Baker & McKenzie International, a Verein organized under the laws of Switzerland. Members of Baker & McKenzie International are Baker McKenzie law firms around the world. In common with terminology used in professional service organizations, reference to a "partner" means a professional who is a partner, or equivalent, in such a law firm. Similarly, reference to an "office" means an office of any such law firm.