Electrical Act: Avoid a warning – what the risk is and how to protect yourself against it
Within the EU, both the sale and the subsequent disposal of electrical and electronic equipment are subject to strict rules and laws. The internationally valid WEEE Directive was transposed in Germany in the form of the Electrical Act (for short: ElektroG). This requires both manufacturers and retailers who place electrical equipment on the market within Germany to register with the Stiftung Elektro-Altgeräte Register (Stiftung EAR).
Anyone who does not comply with this can anticipate consequences because if they fail to register, they are infringing applicable competition law and could be cheating other companies. Furthermore, all manufacturers and distributors of electrical equipment must ensure that it is disposed of properly and, if possible, recycled and recovered. If this is not done, there is a risk of sanctions resulting from infringement of the Electrical Act: warning, fine, court proceedings and more are possible.
Possible penalties and sanctions:
- Court Proceedings
- Temporary Injunctions
- Operating Bans
- Profit Skimming (illegally earned profits)
Fines – how expensive is an infringement of the Electrical Act?
The level of a fine for such an administrative offence is greatly dependent on the type of “offence” involved: whereas Euro 10,000 can be imposed for late collection of a collection container or an infringement of the registration duties, for example, selling electrical equipment that has not been registered or incorrect labelling of your products can be much more expensive at Euro 100,000. Further costs may be incurred if other competitors demand compensation from you or the competent authorities request skimming of profits in order to ensure that you go not gain any advantages over other companies as a result of the infringement.
Federal Environment Agency or a matter for the federal states – competent authorities
Even though Stiftung EAR is mainly responsible for national implementation of the WEEE directive in Germany, the collection of fines and imposing of sanctions or operating bans are not among their tasks. Depending on the matter, either the Federal Environment Agency (Umweltbundesamt – UBA) or various authorities at federal state level (e.g., the trade supervisory boards of each of the federal states) are responsible.
Sanctions by UBA:
- No (late) registration with Stiftung EAR (€ 100,000)
- Distribution of non-registered of electrical and electronic equipment (€ 100,000)
- No/late collection of a full collection container (€ 10,000)
- Infringement of the reporting duties (€ 10,000)
Sanctions by the federal states:
- No (incorrect) labelling of the electrical equipment sold (€ 100,000)
- No proper recovery of waste electrical equipment (€ 10,000)
- No/late return of waste electrical equipment by the retailer (€ 100,000)
Electrical Act warning: Don’t even let it get that far
To avoid unpleasant surprises in the form of fines and Electrical Act warnings from the start, you should register with Stiftung EAR in plenty of time and conscientiously comply with the obligations entailed with the producer responsibility laid down in the WEEE directive.
Deutsche Recycling will be happy to support you in the registration process and with all other administrative and logistical steps required for distribution with legal certainty and proper disposal are electrical and electronic items.