Product-related environmental law

Environmentally driven requirements regarding design and marketing of products are a core element of our practice. We advise on dominant prerequisites on EU level as well as on national transposition acts in Germany. We also support companies in connection with the implementation of EU-wide compliance strategies or notification procedures vis-à-vis competent authorities in EU Member States. To this end, we act in close cooperation with experienced colleagues from other law firms located in the respective jurisdictions.

Directive 2012/19/EU (WEEE) revised the European legal environment for placing electrical and electronic equipment on the market and for disposing of and recycling such equipment. On the basis of this Directive, national implementation legislation of the EU Member States imposes many requirements on manufacturers, importers and distributors. We support affected companies in identifying the relevant legal obligations. This usually includes a portfolio analysis. We also assess the role of the business in the supply chain and take account of contracts with customers and suppliers. We also review in that process the individual market presence (e.g. own brand or OEM business).

If companies are subject to legal obligations, we also support them in registration procedures required at national level and the drafting and conclusion of contracts with service providers (e.g. for the return, disposal and recycling of waste equipment). We also support the necessary structural processes in the supply chain including drafting contracts with customers and suppliers. We also advise on the implementation of required product labelling.

In connection with any penalty proceedings or other enforcement measures of relevant authorities, we represent and defend affected companies. This also includes the design of compliance processes as required in order to reliably exclude accusations of fault.
With the introduction of Directive 2011/65/EU (RoHS), the European Union further advanced the harmonisation of the requirements for the use of certain harmful substances in electrical and electronic equipment. Affected manufacturers are now obliged to ensure compliance with the relevant substance restrictions by applying conformity assessment. This also includes a documentation with a declaration of conformity and the communication by affixing a CE-mark to products. Further legal obligations are imposed on affected companies in relation to the labelling of electrical and electronic equipment, the documentation of contacts to customers and suppliers and dealing with non-compliant products.

We advise companies on all facets of the implementation of Directive 2011/65/EU and the corresponding national statutes. That includes in particular the structuring of compliance processes in order to ensure adequate conformity assessment and technical documentation in accordance with DIN EN 50581.

In addition, we support companies at all stages of the supply chain in identifying breaches of existing substance restrictions. We undertake the necessary notification procedure and provide support in any additional field measures which may be required including returns and recalls.
With the new Packaging Act introduced on 1 January 2019, the framework for placing on the market, return and recycling of packaging was revised. In particular, by the establishment of the central packaging register ("Zentrale Stelle Verpackungsregister"), transparency on the market for obliged manufacturers and approved dual systems is intended to be improved.  For that purpose, new registration and notification obligations were implemented. The central packaging register also received additional powers.

We advise companies on identifying existing legal obligations, the drafting and negotiation of contracts with dual systems and satisfying existing registration and notification obligations. In doing so, we also design industry solutions and optimise recording and disposal structures.

Naturally, we represent affected companies in administrative and court proceedings vis-à-vis the central packaging register, the Federal Environmental Agency or other competent state authorities.

We advise associations and industry organisations on structuring recommendations for action by their members. We also represent their interests in consultation procedures vis-à-vis the central packaging register.
Under the Closed Substance Cycle and Waste Management Act (KrWG), special requirements for placing on the market, return and disposal or recycling were created for various product groups.

Placing and selling batteries on the market is subject to the Battery Act.  Apart from the required notification to the Federal Environment Agency, labelling of batteries, relevant substance prohibitions and collection, disposal and recycling obligations are, above all, thereby regulated.

In addition, there are, for example, requirements for the environmentally friendly disposal of end-of-life motor vehicles under the End-of-Life Vehicle Ordinance.  The provisions of the Waste Wood Ordinance impose requirements for the recycling and disposal of waste wood, and the placing of engines and gear oil on the market and the disposal of waste oil are also subject to corresponding requirements.

We advise companies on structuring the necessary contractual security in the supply chain and the necessary structuring of contracts with disposal partners. In doing so, we take account of additional, general provisions of the KrWG or the Commercial Waste Ordinance.

We also represent companies in official proceedings on the enforcement of regulations in product responsibility under waste law and we defend affected parties in penalty proceedings.
Eco Design of products is governed at European level by the EU Eco Design Directive. It determines the basic regulations and requirements for the environmentally friendly design of products. With the objective of strengthening efficient and environmentally friendly design, product specific implementation regulations for setting of binding minimum requirements were issued.

Affected companies must ensure, by appropriate conformity assessment procedures, that relevant provisions are observed. In addition, there are many labelling and information obligations established by parallel provisions on energy consumption labelling under a separate regime.

We advise companies at the interface between technical and legal provisions on the implementation of the necessary requirements and the structure of the necessary processes in the company and the supply chain. In addition, we represent companies in proceedings vis-à-vis the competent market surveillance authorities.