On 27 January 2020, the Federal Environment Ministry sent the draft bill on the new Battery Act to participating experts and associations and gave them the opportunity to comment on the draft by 28 February 2020. The association VERE e.V. has made use of this opportunity and issued an opinion in this regard. Below is a summary of what we believe to be the most important changes to the existing Battery Act:
Cancellation of the Joint Take-back System for Waste Equipment (old version: Section 6 BattG)
The special status of the former Joint Batteries Take-back System (GRS) has been repealed without replacement, which means that according to the draft, there will only be manufacturer-owned take-back systems. The cancellation most probably was in response to the revocation of the Federal Environment Ministry’s statement concerning the establishment of a Joint Take-back System (GRS) on 6 January 2020. The revocation, in turn, was a reaction to the approval of GRS as a manufacturer-owned take-back system by the competent authority for the environment and energy in Hamburg. According to the Federal Environment Ministry, the operation of two take-back systems in parallel – on different legal foundations – by one operator is not possible and must be prohibited (in this case, revoked).
Manufacturer definition (new: Section 1 (15 BattG))
The draft bill now clearly states that in the case of commercial imports of batteries manufactured under the brand or according to the specific requirements of a customer and intended for resale, and of batteries intended for connection or assembly as a battery pack, the customer is deemed to be the manufacturer and is therefore subject to mandatory registration and licensing.
Authorised representative (new: Section 1 (15a) BattG)
The draft bill allows manufacturers without an establishment in Germany to appoint an authorised representative based in Germany. Contrary to the provision in the [German] Electrical and Electronic Equipment Act, however, the appointment of the authorised representative is voluntary in this case, and the foreign manufacturer can continue to take care of registration and licensing itself.
Obligations of take-back systems for waste batteries (Section 7 BattG)
Alongside the distributors (dealers) of equipment batteries, public waste management authorities and primary treatment facilities for old electrical equipment, voluntary collection points for waste equipment batteries now also have the right to demand free collection of waste equipment batteries in the case of a manufacturer-owned take-back system, provided they have collected a volume of at least 90 kg. Collection must then be carried out within 14 days of placing the order.
The legislature would prefer to see greater transparency in the market. To this end, in the draft bill the federal government obliges manufacturer-owned take-back systems to publish their ownership and membership structure on the respective websites along with the disposal cost contributions levied.
Ecological design and formulation of contributions
In this context, take-back systems are obliged to create incentives to ensure that the use of hazardous substances is minimised in the manufacture of equipment batteries and that aspects of durability, reusability and recyclability are duly taken into account. Just how this is required to be done in detail is still unaddressed. A transitional period until 1 January 2023 applies as far as the implementation of the incentive systems is concerned.
Competent authority and authorisation to assign tasks by way of lending (new: Section 19 BattG and Section 21 BattG)
The Federal Environment Agency remains the competent authority. However, it has the possibility to assign some of its tasks to the joint body of manufacturers under the WEEE Act (EAR Foundation). In the light of the present discussion, it is very likely that it will do so.
For your questions about the draft bill on the [German] Battery Act (BattG) and its possible consequences for your company, please do not hesitate to contact Imke May at take-e-way by calling +49/40/750687-136 or sending an e-mail message to firstname.lastname@example.org.