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Product stewardship

Reflecting an increasing global trend towards product stewardship, the EU has adopted a number of 'cradle to grave' style directives in recent years. These require producers to take responsibility for the recovery and recycling of products when they have been discarded by the end user. These measures have to date focussed on packaging waste, waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE), the restriction of hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment (RoHS) and batteries. The rules and requirements are complex and it can be difficult to work out to what extent your business is affected. Non-compliance can lead to significant penalties.

Packaging waste legislation has been around for some time, but we regularly come across businesses that are unaware of the requirements. All businesses that handle packaging (and that includes selling packed goods) are potentially affected.

WEEE affects manufacturers, brand owners, importers and users of electrical and electronic equipment. Issues range from identifying whether a particular product is subject to the legislation, to how to comply with the legislation in a number of Member States, to drafting contractual provisions to deal with end of life responsibilities in respect of equipment (in the case of business customers).

RoHS for practical purposes bans the use of certain substances in electrical and electronic equipment. One of the key challenges here is engaging with other parties in your supply chain to ensure you can demonstrate products you are supplying comply.

Similar legislation also applies in relation to Batteries.

How we can help

Our environmental lawyers have extensive experience of advising on all aspects of producer responsibility on a multi-jurisdictional basis. For example we can:

  • advise whether a particular product is subject to the legislation.
  • advise on compliance requirements eg data reporting obligations, joining compliance schemes etc.
  • develop policies and procedures to help your business to comply.
  • provide training to your internal teams.
  • help you respond when a problem comes to light for example if a customer identifies that a non compliant product has been supplied.

Useful documents

Producer responsibility

View more about our producer responsibility experience - Focused on producer responsibility.

View our Top tips for producer responsibility - Top tips for producer responsibility.

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